Paul Patoff



ON the next day I went to see Paul, and told him the result of my first step. He appeared very grateful.

“ It seems hard that my life should be ruined by this thing,” he said wearily. “ Any prospect of news is delightful, however small. I am under a sort of curse, — as much as though I had really had something to do with poor Alexander’s death. It comes up in all sorts of ways. Unless we can solve the mystery, I shall never be really free.”

“ We will solve it,” I said, in order to reassure him. “ Nothing shall be left undone, and I hope that in a few weeks you may feel relieved from all this anxiety.”

“ It is more than anxiety; it is pain,” he answered. I supposed that he was thinking of Hermione, and was silent. Presently he proposed to go out. It was a fine day in February, though the snow was on the ground and filled the ruts in the pavement of the Grande Rue de Pera. Every one was wrapped in furs and every one wore overshoes, without which it is impossible to go out in winter in Constantinople. The streets were crowded with that strange multitude seen nowhere else in the world; the shops were full of people of all sorts, from the ladies of the embassies to the veiled Turkish ladies, who have small respect for the regulation forbidding them to buy in Frank establishments. At Galata Serai the huge Kurdish hamáls loitered in the sun, waiting for a job, their ropes and the heavy pillows on which they carry their burdens lying at their feet. The lean dogs sat up and glared hungrily at the huge joints of meat, which the butcher’s lads carried through the crowd, forcing their way past the delicate Western ladies, who drew back in horror at the sight of so much raw beef, and through knots of well-dressed men standing before the cafés in the narrow street. Numberless soldiers moved in the crowd, tall, fair Turks, with broad shoulders and blue eyes, in the shabby uniform of the footguards, but looking as though they could fight as well as any smart Prussian grenadier, as indeed they can when they get enough to eat. Now and then a closed sedan-chair moved rapidly along, borne by sturdy Kurds, and occasionally a considerable disturbance was caused by the appearance of a carriage. Paul and I strolled down the steep street, past Galata tower and down into Galata itself.

“ Shall we cross ? ” asked Paul, as we reached the bridge.

“ Let us go up the Bosphorus,” I said. " There will probably be a steamer before long.”

He assented readily enough. It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, — five by the Turkish clocks, — and the day was magnificent. The sun was high, and illuminated everything in the bright, cold air, so that the domes and minarets of the city were white as snow, with bluish shadows, while the gilded crescents and spires glistened with unnatural brilliancy in the clear winter’s daylight. It is hard to say whether Stamboul is more beautiful at any one season of the year than during the other three, for every season brings with it some especial loveliness, some new phase of color. You may reach Serai point on a winter’s morning in a driving snowstorm, so that everything is hidden in the gray veil of the falling flakes ; suddenly the clouds will part and the sunlight will fall full upon the city, so that it seems as if every mosque and spire were built of diamonds. Or you may cross to Scutari in the early dawn of a morning in June, when the sky is like a vast Eastern flower, dark blue in the midst overhead, the petals shaded with every tint to the faint purple on the horizon ; and every hue in turn passes over the fantastic buildings, as the shadows gradually take color from the sky, and the soft velvety water laps up the light in broad pools and delicate streaks of tinted reflection. It is always beautiful, always new; but of all times, I think the hour when the high sun illuminates most distinctly everything on land and sea is the time when Stamboul is most splendid and queenly.

The great ferry - boat heaved and thumped the water, and swung slowly off the wooden pier, while we stood on the upper deck watching the scene before us. For two men as familiar with Constantinople in all its aspects as we were, it seemed almost ridiculous to go on board a steamer merely for the sake of being carried to the mouth of the Black Sea and back again. But I have always loved the Bosphorus, and I thought it would amuse Paul to pass the many landings, and to see the crowds of passengers, and to walk about the empty deck. He was tired with the journey and harassed in mind, and for those ills the open air is the best medicine.

He appeared to enjoy it, and asked me many questions about the palaces and villas on both shores, for I was better acquainted with the place than he. It seemed to interest him to know that such a villa belonged to such a Pasha, that such another was the property of an old princess of evil fame, while a third had seen strange doings in the days of Mehemet Ali, and was now deserted or inhabited only by ghosts of the past, — the resort of ghouls and jins from the neighboring grave-yards. As we lay a moment at the pier of Yeni Köj, — “ New town ” sounds less interesting, — we watched the stream of passengers, and I thought Paul started slightly as a tall, smooth-faced, and hideous negro suddenly turned and looked up to where we stood on the deck, as he left the steamer. I might have been mistaken, but it was the only approach to an incident of interest which occurred that day. We reached the upper part of the Bosphorus, and at Yeni Mahalle within sight of the Black Sea, the ferryboat described a wide circle and turned once more in the direction of Stamboul.

“ I feel better,” said Paul, as we reached Galata bridge and elbowed our way ashore through the crowd. “We will go again.”

“ By all means,” I answered.

From that time during several weeks we frequently made excursions into Stamboul and up the Bosphorus, and the constant enjoyment of the open air did Paul good. But I could see that wherever we went he watched the people with intense interest; following some individual with his eyes in silence, or trying to see into dark archways and through latticed windows, staring at the files of passengers who came on board the boats or went ashore at the different landings, and apparently never relaxing his attention. The people grew familiar to me, too, and gradually it appeared that Paul was constructing a method for our peregrinations. It was he, and not I, who suggested the direction of our expeditions, and I noticed that he chose certain places on certain days. On Monday, for instance, he never failed to propose a visit to the bazaars, on Tuesday we generally went up the Bosphorus, on Wednesday into Stamboul. On Friday afternoons, when the weather was fine, we used to ride out to the Sweet Waters of Europe; for Friday is the Mussulman’s day of rest, and on that day all who are able love to go out to the Kiat-hané — the “ paper-mill,” — where they pass the afternoon in driving and walking, eating sweetmeats, smoking, drinking coffee, watching gypsy girls dance, or listening to the long-winded tales of professional story-tellers. Almost every day had its regular excursion. and it was clear to me that he always chose the place where on that day of the week there was likely to be the greatest crowd.

Meanwhile Balsamides, in whose house I continued to live, alternately laughed at me for believing Paul’s story, and expressed in the next breath a hope that Alexander might yet be found. He had been to Santa Sophia, and had ascertained that the other staircase was usually opened on the nights when the mosque was illuminated, for the convenience of the men employed in lighting the lamps, and this confirmed his theory about the direction taken by Alexander when he left the gallery. But here all trace ceased again, and Balsamides was almost ready to give up the search, when an incident occurred which renewed our energy and hope, and which had the effect of rousing Paul to the greatest excitement.

We were wandering under the gloomy arches of the vast bazaar one day, and had reached the quarter where the Spanish Jews have their shops and collect their wonderful mass of valuables, chiefly antiquities, offering them for sale in their little dens, and ever hungry for a bargain. We strolled along, smoking and chatting as we went, when a Jew named Marchetto, with whom I had had dealings in former days and who knew me very well, came suddenly out into the broad covered way, and invited us into his shop. He said he had an object of rare beauty which he was sure I would buy. We went in, and sat down on the low divan against the wall. The sides of the little shop were piled to the ceiling with neatly folded packages of stuffs, embroideries, and prayer carpets. In one corner stood a shabby old table with a glass case, under which various objects of gold and silver were exposed for sale. The whole place smelled strongly of Greek tobacco, but otherwise it was clean and neat. A little raised dome in the middle of the ceiling admitted light and air.

Marchetto disappeared for a moment, and instantly returned with two cups of Turkish coffee on a pewter salver, which he deposited on a stool before us. He evidently meant business, for he began to talk of the weather, and seemed in no hurry to show us the object he had vaguely mentioned. At last I asked for it, which I would certainly not have done had I meant to buy it. It proved to be a magnificent strip of Rhodes tapestry, of the kind formerly made for the Knights of Malta, but not manufactured since the last century. It consists always of Maltese crosses, of various sizes and designs, embroidered in heavy dark red silk upon strips of coarse strong linen about two feet wide, or of the same design worked upon square pieces for cushions. The value of this tapestry is very great, and is principally determined by the fineness of the stitch and the shade of red in the silk used.

Marchetto’s face fell as we admired his tapestry, for he knew that we would not begin a bargain by conceding the smallest merit to the object offered. But he put a brave face on the matter, and began to show us other things : a Giordès carpet, a magnificent piece of old Broussa gold embroidery on pale blue satin, curious embroideries on towels, known as Persian lace, — indeed, every variety of ancient stuff. Tired of sitting still, I rose and turned over some of the things myself. In doing so I struck my elbow against the old glass case in the corner, and looked to see whether I had broken it. In so doing my eye naturally fell upon the things laid out on white paper beneath the glazed frame. Among them I saw a watch which attracted my attention. It was of silver, but very beautifully engraved and adorned in Russian niello. The ribbed knob which served to wind it was of gold. Altogether the workmanship was very fine, and the watch looked new.

“ Here is a Russian watch, Patoff,” I said, tapping the glass pane with my finger. Paul rose languidly and came to the table. When he saw the thing he turned pale, and gripped my arm in sudden excitement.

“ It is his,” he said, in a low voice, trying to raise the lid.

“Alexander’s?” Paul nodded. “Pretend to be indifferent,” I said in Russian, fearing lest Marchetto should understand.

The Jew unclosed the case and handed us the watch. Paul took it with trembling fingers and opened it at the back. There in Russian letters were engraved the words “ Alexander Paulovitch, from his father;” the date followed. There was no doubt about it. The watch had belonged to the lost man ; he had, therefore, been robbed.

“ You got this from some bankrupt Pasha, Marchetto ? ” I inquired. Everything offered for sale in the bazaar at second hand is said to come from the establishment of a Pasha; the statement is supposed to attract foreigners.

Marchetto nodded and smiled.

“ A Russian Pasha,” I continued. “ Did you ever hear of a Russian Pasha, Marchetto ? The fellow who sold it to you lied.”

“ He who lies on the first day of Ramazán repents on the day of Bairam,” returned the Jew, quoting a Turkish proverb, and grinning. I was struck by the words. Somehow the mention of Bairam made me think of Alexander’s uncertain fate, and suggested the idea that Marchetto knew something about it.

“ Yes,” I answered, looking sharply at him ; “ and another proverb says that the fox ends his days in the furrier’s shop. Where did you buy the watch ? ”

“Allah bilir ! I have forgotten.”

“ Allah knows, undoubtedly. But you know, too.” I said, laughing, and pretending to be amused. Paul had resumed his seat upon the small divan, and was listening with intense interest; but he knew it was best to leave the thing to me. Marchetto was a fat man, with red hair and red-brown eyes. He looked at me doubtfully for a moment.

“ I will buy it if you will tell me where you got it,” I said.

“ I got it ” — He hesitated. “ It came out of a harem,” he added suddenly, with a sort of chuckle.

“ Out of a harem ! ” I exclaimed, in utter incredulity. “ What harem ? ”

“ I will not tell you,” he answered, gravely, the smile fading from his face. “ I swore that I would not tell.”

“ Will you swear that it really came from a harem ? ” I asked.

“ I give you my word of honor,” asseverated Marchetto. “ I swear by my head, by your beard ” —

“ I do not mean that,” I said quietly. “ Will you swear to me, solemnly, before God, that you are telling the truth ? ”

Marchetto looked at me in surprise, for no people in the world are so averse to making a solemn oath as the Hebrews, as, perhaps, no people are more exact in regard to the truth when so made to bind themselves. The man looked at me for a moment.

“ You seem very curious about that watch,” he said at last, turning away and busying himself with his stuffs.

“ Then you will not swear ? ” I asked, putting the watch back in its place.

“ I cannot swear to what I do not know. But I know the man who sold it to me. He is the Lala of a harem, that is certain. I will not tell you his name, nor the name of the Effendi to whose harem he belongs. Will you buy my watch ? — birindjí — first quality — it is a beautiful thing. On my honor, I have never seen a finer one, though it is of silver.”

“ Not unless you will tell me where it came from,” I said firmly. “ Besides, I must show it to Vartan in Pera before I buy it. Perhaps the works are not good.”

“ It is yours,” said Marchetto. “ Take it. When you have had it two days you will buy it.”

“ How much ? ”

“ Twenty liras, — twenty Turkish pounds,” answered the Jew promptly.

“ You mean five,” I said. The watch was worth ten, I thought, about two hundred and thirty francs.

“ Impossible. I would rather let you take it as a gift. It is birindjí — first quality — upon my honor, I never saw ” —

“ Rubbish, Marchetto ! ” I exclaimed. “ Let me take it to Vartan to be examined. Then we will bargain.”

“ Take it,” he answered. “ Keep it as long as you like. I know you very well, and I thank Heaven I have profited a little with you. But the price of the watch is twenty pounds. You will pay it, and all your life you will look at it and say, ‘ What an honest man Marchetto is ! ’ By my head — it is birindjí — first quality — I never ” —

“ I have no doubt,” I answered, cutting him short. I motioned to Paul that we had better go : he rose without a word.

“ Good-by, Marchetto,” I said. “ I will come back in a day or two and bargain with you.”

“It is birindjí — by my head — first quality ” — were the last words we heard as we left the Jew amongst his stuffs. Then we threaded the subterranean passages of the bazaar, and soon afterwards were walking in the direction of Galata bridge, on our way back to Pera. At last Paul spoke.

“We are on the scent,” he said. “That fellow was speaking the truth when he said the watch came from a harem. I could see it in his face. I begin to think that Alexander did some absurdly rash thing, — followed some veiled Turkish woman, as he would have done before if I had not stopped him, — was seized, imprisoned in some cellar or other, and ultimately murdered.”

“ It looks like it,” I answered. “ Of course I would not buy the watch outright, because as long as it is not paid for I have a hold upon Marchetto. I will talk to Balsamides to-night. He is very clever about those things, and he will find out the name of the black man who sold it.”

We separated, and I went to find my friend; but he was on duty, and would not return until evening. I spent the rest of the day in making visits, trying to get rid of the time. On returning to the house of Gregorios I found a letter from John Carvel, the first I had received from him since I had left England. It ran as follows : —

MY DEAR GRIGGS, — Since you left us something very extraordinary and unexpected has taken place, and considering the part you took in our household affairs, you should not be kept in the dark. I have suffered more annoyance in connection with my unfortunate sisterin-law than I can ever tell you ; and the thing has culminated in a sort of transformation scene, such as you certainly never expected any more than I did. What will you say when I tell you that Madame Patoff has suddenly emerged from her rooms in all respects a sane woman ? You will not be any less surprised — unless Paul has confided in you — to hear that he asked Hermione to marry him before leaving us, and that Hermione did not refuse him! I am so nervous that I have cut three meets in the last month.

Of course you will want to know how all this came out. I do not see how I can manage to write so long a letter as this must be. But the labor improbus knocks the stuffing out of all difficulties, as you put it in your neat American way. I dare say I shall survive. If I do not, the directions for my epitaph are, “ Here lies the body of Anne Patoff’s brother-in-law.” If you could see me, you would appreciate the justice of the inscription.

Madame Patoff is perfectly sane: dines with us, drives out, walks, talks, and reads like any other human being, — in which she differs materially from Chrysophrasia, who does all these things as they were never done, before or after the flood. We do not know what to make of the situation, but we try to make the best of it. It came about in this way. Hermione had taken a fancy to pay her aunt a visit, a day or two after you had left. Mrs. North was outside, as usual, reading or working in the next room. It chanced that the door was left open, or not quite closed. Mrs. North had the habit of listening to what went on, professionally, because it was her business to watch the case. As she sat there working, she heard Madame Patoff’s voice, talking consecutively. She had never heard her talk before, more than to say, " Yes,” or “ No,” or “It is a fine day,” or “ It rains.” She rose and went near the door. Her patient was talking very connectedly about a book she had been reading, and Hermione was answering her as though not at all surprised at the conversation. Then, presently, Hermione began to beg her to come out into the house and to live with the rest of us, since she was now perfectly sane. Mrs. North was thunderstruck, but did not lose her head. She probably did the best thing she could have done, as the event proved. She entered the room very quietly, — she is always so quiet, — and said in the most natural way in the world, “ I am so glad you are better, Madame Patoff. Excuse me, Miss Hermione left the door open and I heard you talking.” The old lady started and looked at her a moment. Then she turned away, and presently, looking rather white, she answered the nurse : “ Thank you, Mrs. North, I am quite well. Will you send for Professor Cutter ? ” So Cutter was sent for, and when he had seen her he sent for me, and told me that my sister in-law was in a lucid state, but that it would be just as well not to excite her. If she chose to leave her room she might, he said, but she ought to be watched. “The deuce!” said I, “this is most extraordinary ! ” “ Exactly,” said he “ most extraordinary.”

The lucid moment lasted, and she has been perfectly sane ever since. She goes about the house, touching everything and admiring everything, and enjoys driving with me in the dog-cart. I do not know what to make of it. I asked Hermione how it began. She only said that she thought her aunt had been better when she was with her, and then it had come very suddenly. The other day Madame Patoff asked about Paul, and I told her he had gone to the East with you. But she did not seem to know anything about you, though I told her you had seen her. “ Poor Paul,” she said, “ I should like to see him so much. He is the only one left.” She was sad for a moment, but that was all. Cutter said it was very strange ; that her insanity must have been caused in some way by the shock she had when she threw herself out of the window in Germany. Perhaps so. At all events, she is sane now, and Cutter says she will not be crazy again. I hope he is right. She appeared very grateful for all I had done for her, and I believe she has written to Paul. Queer story, is it not ?

Now for the sequel. Hermione came to me one morning in the library, and confessed that Paul had asked her to marry him, and that she had not exactly refused. Girls’ ideas about those things are apt to be very inexact when they are in love with a man and do not want to own it. Of course I said I was glad she had not accepted him; but when I put it to her in that way she seemed more uncertain than ever. The end of it was that she said she could not marry him, however much she liked him, unless he could put an end to a certain foolish tale which is told against him. I dare say you have heard that he had been half suspected of helping his brother out of the world. Was there ever such nonsense ? That was what Chrysophrasia meant with her disgusting personalities about Cain and Abel. I dare say you remember. I do not mind telling you that I like Paul very much more than I expected to when he first came. He has a hard shell, but he is a good fellow, and as innocent of his brother’s death as I am. But — they are cousins, and Paul’s mother has certainly been insane. Of course insanity brought on by an accident can never be hereditary ; but then, there is Chrysophrasia, who is certainly very odd. However, Paul is a fine fellow, and I will think of it. Mrs. Carvel likes him even better than I do. I would have preferred that Hermione should marry an out-and-out Englishman, but I always said she should marry the man she loved, if he were a gentleman, and I will not go back on my word. They will not have much to live on, for I believe Paul has refused to touch a penny of his brother’s fortune, believing that he may yet be found.

But the plot thickens. What do you suppose Macaulay has been doing? He has written a letter to his old chief, Lord Mavourneen, who always liked him so much, begging to be sent to Constantinople. The ambassador had a secretary out there of the same standing who wanted to go to Paris, so the matter was arranged at the Foreign Office, and Macaulay is going out at once. Naturally the female establishment set up a howl that they must spend the summer on the Bosphorus; that I had taken them everywhere else, and that no one of them could die happy without having seen Constantinople. The howl lasted a week. Then I went the way of all flesh, and gave in. Mrs. Carvel wanted to see Macaulay, Madame Patoff wanted to see the place where poor Alexander disappeared, Hermione wanted to see Paul, and Chrysophrasia wanted to see the Golden Horn and dance upon the glad waters of the joyous Bosphorus in the light caïque of commerce. I am rather glad I have submitted. I think that Hermione’s affection is serious, — she looks ill, poor child, — and I want to see more of Paul before deciding. Of course, with Macaulay in one embassy and Paul in another, we shall see everything; and Mary says I am growing crusty over my books. You understand now how all this has occurred.

Now I want your advice, for you not only know Constantinople, but you are living there. Do you advise us to come at once and spend the spring, or to come later and stay all summer ? Is there anything to eat ? Must I bring a cook ? Can I get a house, or must we encamp in a hotel? What clothes does one wear ? In short, tell me everything you know, on a series of post cards or by telegraph, — for you hate writing letters more than I do. I await your answer with anxiety, as we shall regulate our movements by what you say. All send affectionate messages to you and to Paul, to whom please read this letter.

Yours ever,


I had not recovered from my astonishment in reading this long epistle, when Gregorios came in and sat down by the fire. His entrance reminded me of the watch, and for the moment banished John Carvel and his family from my thoughts. I showed him the thing, and told him what Marchetto had said.

“We have him now ! ” he exclaimed, examining the name and date with interest, though he could not read the Russian characters.

“ It is not so sure,” I said. “He will never tell the name of the negro.”

“ No ; but we can see the fellow easily enough, I fancy,” returned Balsamides. “ You do not know how these things are done. It is most probable that Marchetto has not paid him for the watch. Things of that sort are generally not paid for until they have been sold out of the shop. Marchetto would not give him a good price for the watch until he knew what it would fetch, and the man would not take a small sum because he believes it to be valuable. The chances are that the Lala comes from time to time to inquire if it is sold, and Marchetto shows it to him to prove that he has not got any money for it.”

“ That sounds rather far-fetched,” I observed. “ Marchetto may have had it in his keeping ever since Alexander disappeared. The Lala would not wait as long as that. He would take it to some one else.”

“ No, I do not believe so,” said Gregorios thoughtfully. “ Besides, it may not have been brought to the Jew more than a week ago. Those fellows do not part with jewelry unless they need money. It is a pretty thing, too, and would attract the attention of any foreigner.”

“ How can you manage to watch Marchetto so closely as to get a sight of the man ? ”

“ Bribe the Jew in the next shop; or, still better, pay a hamál to spend his time in the neighborhood. The man probably comes once a week on a certain day. Keep the watch. The next time he comes it will be gone, but Marchetto will not have been paid for it and will refuse to pay the Lala. There will inevitably be a hubbub and a noise over it. The hamál can easily find out the name of the negro, who is probably well known in the bazaar.”

“ But suppose that I am right, and it is already paid for ? ” I objected.

“ It is very unlikely. I know these people better than you do. At all events, we will put the hamál there to watch for the row. If it does not come off in a month, I will begin to think you are right.”

Gregorios is a true Oriental. He possesses the inborn instinct of the bazaar.


That night I went in search of Paul, and found him standing silent and alone in the corner of a drawing-room at one of the embassies. There was a great reception and a dance, and all the diplomats had turned out officially to see that portion of the native Pera society which is invited on such occasions.

There is a brilliancy about such affairs in Constantinople which is hardly rivaled elsewhere. The display of jewels is something wonderful, for the great Fanariote families are still rich, in spite of the devastations of the late war, and the light of their hereditary diamonds and pearls is not hidden under a bushel. There is beauty, too, of the Oriental and Western kind, and plenty of it. The black eyes and transparently white complexions of the Greek ladies, their raven hair and heavy brows, their magnificent calm and their languid attitudes, contrast strangely with the fair women of many countries, whose husbands, or fathers, or brothers, or uncles are attached to the different embassies. The uniforms, too, are often superb, and the display of decorations is amazing. The conversation is an enlargement on the ordinary idea of Babel, for almost every known language is spoken within the limits of the ball-room.

I found Paul alone, with an abstracted expression on his face, as he stood aside from the crowd, unnoticed in his corner.

“ My dear fellow,” I said, “ I believe I may congratulate you.”

“ Upon what ? ” he asked, in some surprise.

“ Let us get out of this crowd,” I answered. “ I have a letter from John Carvel, which you ought to read.”

We threaded the rooms till we reached a small boudoir, occupied only by one or two couples, exceedingly interested in each other.

“ Read that,” said I. It was the best thing I could do for him, I thought. He might be annoyed to find that I knew his secret, but he could not fail to rejoice at the view John took of the engagement. His face changed many times in expression, as he read the letter carefully. When he had finished he was silent, and held it in his hand.

“ What do you think of all this ? ” I asked.

“ She never was mad. Or if she was, this is the strangest recovery I ever heard of. So she is coming here with the rest! And uncle John thinks me a very fine fellow,” he added with a laugh, meant to be a little sarcastic, but which ended with the irrepressible ring of genuine happiness.

“ I congratulate you,” I said. “ I think the affair is as good as settled. You have only to wait a few weeks, and they will be here. By the bye, I hope you do not mind Carvel’s frankness in telling me all about it ? ”

“Not in the least,” answered Paul, with a smile. “ I believe you are the best friend I have in the world, and you are his friend. You will do good rather than harm.”

“ I hope so,” said I. “ But if any one had foretold a month ago that we should all be together again so soon, — and here, too, — I could have laughed at him.”

“ It is fate,” answered Paul. “ It would be better if it could be put off until we reach the end of our search, especially as we seem to be nearer the track than ever before. I am afraid that their arrival will hinder us — or, at least, me — from working as hard as I would like.”

“ On the contrary,” I replied, “ I fancy you will work all the harder. I have been talking to Balsamides about the watch. He feels sure that he can catch the man who took it to Marchetto.”

I explained to Paul the course Gregorios proposed to follow. He seemed to think the chance was a poor one.

“ I have been pursued by an idea, ever since this morning,” he said at last. “ I dare say you will think it very foolish, but I cannot get rid of it. Do you remember the adventure in the Valley of Roses ? I told you about it at Carvel Place. Very well. I cannot help thinking that the negro who took the watch to Marchetto was the one who accompanied those two Turkish women. The man was exasperated. He probably knew us by sight, for we had constantly met him and the lady with the thick yashmak. They had often seen us come out of the Russian embassy. No complaint was ever made against Alexander. It looks to me like a piece of private vengeance.”

“ Yes,” I assented, struck by the idea. “ Besides, if the fellow had succeeded in making away with your brother, it is natural that he should have waited a longtime before disposing of his jewelry.”

“ I wonder what became of the other things,” said Patoff. “ Alexander had with him his Moscow cigarette case, he wore a gold chain with the watch, and he had on his finger a ring with a sapphire and two diamonds in a heavy gold band. If all those things have been disposed of, they must have passed through the bazaar, probably through Marchetto’s hands.”

At this moment Balsamides Bey’s pale, intelligent face showed itself at the door. He came quickly forward on seeing us, and drew up a chair. I told him in a few words what we had said. He smiled and twirled the end of his brown mustache.

“ There is something in that,” he answered. “ I fancy, too, that such a fellow would first part with the chain, then with the cigarette case, thirdly with the watch, and last of all with the ring, which he probably wears.”

“We must find out if Marchetto has sold the chain and the case for him,” I said.

“ Leave Marchetto to me,” said Gregorios, confidently. “ I will spend the day with him to-morrow. Have you ever seen the negro since that affair in the Valley of Roses ? ”

“ Often,” replied Paul, somewhat to my surprise. “ He goes to Yeni Köj every Thursday.”

“ You seem to have watched his movements,” observed Balsamides, with a smile of admiration. “ Did you never tell Griggs ? ”

“ No,” said I, rather amazed.

“ What would have been the use ? I only watched the man because I fancied he might be in some way connected with the matter, but it seemed so absurd, until the finding of the watch made it look more probable, that I never spoke of it.”

“ I am glad you have spoken of it now,” said Gregorios. “ It is probably the key to the whole affair.”

We talked on for a few minutes, and Paul told Balsamides that his mother and the Carvels were coming, explaining his anxiety to hasten the search so as to have something positive to show when they arrived. Then Paul left us, and went to fulfill such social obligations as his position imposed upon him. He was not a man to forget such things, even in times of great excitement; and when he returned to Constantinople, his chief had expressed the hope that Paul would not shut himself up, but would go everywhere, as he had formerly done.

“ This thing is beginning to interest me, Griggs,” said Gregorios, arching his eyebrows, and looking at me with a peculiar expression. “ You are doing more than I am, and I will not bear it,” he added, with a laugh. “ What is my little bit of evidence about the staircase in Santa Sophia compared to your discovery of the watch ? I believe that in the end Marchetto will be the deus ex machina who will pull us out of all our difficulties. I believe, too, that the best thing to do is to confide the matter to him. I will go and see him to-morrow.”

“ He will never break his oath to the Lala,” I answered.

“ Perhaps not. But he has only sworn that he will not tell his name. He has not sworn that he will not let me see him. So the fellow goes to Yeni Köj on Thursday. Then he probably lives there, and chooses that day to come to Stamboul. You have seen him going home. If he goes to Stamboul, he most likely visits the bazaar early in the morning. If so, I will catch him tomorrow, and to-morrow night I will tell you whether he is the man or not. I will come upon Marchetto by accident, and he will of course want to show me the Rhodes tapestry; then I will spend the whole morning over the bargain, and I shall not miss the Lala if he comes.”

Balsamides was evidently fully roused, and as we smoked a last cigarette in his rooms that night he talked enthusiastically of what he hoped to accomplish on the next day. He kept his word, and very early in the morning I heard him go out. From the sound of his walk I could tell that he had no spurs, and was, therefore, in civilian’s dress. He told me afterwards what occurred.

At half past eight o’clock he was drinking a cup of coffee in Marchetto’s shop in the bazaar, and the Jew was displaying his tapestry, and swearing that it was birindjí, first quality. Balsamides wanted to produce the impression that he intended to make a bargain.

“ Kaldyr ! Take it away! ” he exclaimed. “ It is rubbish.”

Marchetto held the stuff up over his customer’s head, so that the light from the little dome could fall upon it.

“ There is not a hole in the whole length of it,” he cried, enthusiastically. " It is perfect; not a thread loose. Examine it; is there a patch ? By my head, if you can find such another piece I will give you a present.”

“ Is that a color ? ” asked Balsamides, contemptuously. “ Is that red ? It is pink. It is magenta. How much did you pay to have it made ? ”

“ If I could make Rhodes tapestry, I should be as rich as the Hunkyar,” retorted Marchetto, squatting on the matted floor and slowly drawing the magnificent tapestry across his knees, so that Gregorios could see it to advantage.

“ Do you take me for a madman ? ” asked the aid-de-camp. “ I do not care for Rhodes tapestry. Kaldyr! If it were old, it would have holes in it.”

“ I have Rhodes full of holes, beautiful holes,” observed Marchetto, with a grin.

“ Fox! ” retorted Gregorios. “ Do you think when I buy tapestry I want to buy holes ? ”

“ But this piece has none,” argued the Jew.

“ You want me to buy it. I can see you do. You are laughing at my beard. You think I will give a thousand pounds for your rubbish ? ”

“ Not a thousand pounds,” said Marchetto. " It is worth a hundred and fifty pounds, neither more nor less. Marchetto is an honest man. He is not a Persian fox.”

“ No,” answered Balsamides, “ he is an Israelite of Saloniki. What have I to do with such a fellow as you, who have the impudence to ask a hundred and fifty liras for that rag ? ”

“ How shall the lion and the lamb lie down together ? ” inquired Marchetto. “ And is it a rag ? ”

“ I will tell you, Marchetto,” said Gregorios, gravely. " The lion and the lamb shall lie down together, when the lion lies down with the lamb inside of him.”

“ Take, and eat! ” exclaimed the ready Jew, holding out the Rhodes tapestry to Balsamides.

“ A man who has fasted throughout Ramazán shall not break his fast with an onion,” retorted Gregorios, with a laugh.

“ Who eats little earns much,” replied Marchetto. “ Is it not the most beautiful piece of Rhodes you ever saw, Effendim ? There is not a Pasha in Stamboul, nor in Pera, nor in Scutari, who possesses the like of it. Only a hundred and fifty pounds ; it is very cheap.”

“ I will give you ten pounds for it, if you will give me a good backsheesh,” said Gregorios at last. In Stamboul it is customary, when a bargain of any importance is completed, for the seller to make the buyer a present of some small object, which is called the backsheesh, or gift.

On hearing the offer, Marchetto looked slyly at Gregorios and laughed, without saying anything. Then he slowly began to fold the tapestry together.

“ Ten pounds,” said Balsamides. “ Pek chok, — that is quite enough, and too much,”

“ Yes, of course it is,” answered the Jew, ironically. “ I paid a hundred and nineteen pounds and eighty-five piastres for it. I only ask fifteen piastres profit. Small profits. Get rid of everything quickly. Who sells cheaply sells soon ; who sells soon earns much.”

“ I told you from the first that I did not want your Rhodes,” said Balsamides. “ I came here to see what you had. Have you nothing else that is good ? ”

“ Everything Marchetto has is good. His carpets are all of silk, and of the finest colors. His embroideries are the envy of the bazaar. Marchetto has everything.”

He did not finish folding the Rhodes, but thrust it aside upon the matting, and began to pull down other stuffs and carpets from the shelves. From the obstinacy Gregorios displayed, he judged that he really meant to buy the tapestry, and to make a good bargain he would willingly have turned everything in his little shop upside down.

Gregorios admired several pieces very much, whereupon the Jew threw them aside in disgust, well knowing that his customer would not buy them. The latter had now been an hour in the shop, and showed no signs of going away. Marchetto returned to the original question.

“ If it is worth so much, why do you not take it to one of the embassies ? ” asked Balsamides at last. He had resolved that he would prolong the discussion until twelve o’clock, judging that by midday the negro would be on his way back to Yeni Köj, and that there would be no further chance of seeing him. He therefore broached the subject of Marchetto’s trade with the foreigners, knowing that once upon this tack the Jew would have endless stories and anecdotes to relate. But Gregorios was not destined to stand in need of so much ingenuity. He would never have made the attempt in which he was now engaged unless he had anticipated success, and he was not surprised when a tall, smooth-faced negro, of hideous countenance, but exceedingly well dressed, put his head into the shop. He saluted Gregorios and entered. Marchetto touched his mouth and his fez with his right hand, but did not at first rise from his seat upon the floor. Balsamides watched the man. He looked about the shop, and then approached the old glass case in the corner. He had hardly glanced at it when he turned and tried to catch Marchetto’s eye. The latter made an almost imperceptible motion of the head. Gregorios was satisfied that the pantomime referred to the watch, which was no longer in its place. He continued to talk with the Jew for a few minutes, and then slowly rose from his seat.

“ I see you have business with this gentleman,” he said. “ I have something to do in the bazaar. I will return in half an hour.”

The Lala seemed delighted, and politely made way for Gregorios to pass, but Marchetto of course protested loudly that the negro’s business could wait. He accompanied Gregorios to the door, and with many inclinations stood looking after him for a few moments. At a little distance Gregorios pretended to be attracted by something exposed for sale, and, pausing, looked furtively back. The Jew had gone in again. Then Balsamides returned, and entered a shop almost opposite to Marchetto’s, kept by another Spanish Hebrew of Saloniki, who made a specialty of selling shawls, a smart young fellow, with beady black eyes.

“Good morning, Abraham,” he said. “ Have you manufactured any new Kashmir shawls out of old rags of borders and French imitations since I saw you ? ”

Abraham smiled pleasantly, and began to unfold his wares. Before many minutes the sound of angry voices was heard outside. Gregorios had ensconced himself in a corner, whence he could see what went on without being seen. The quarrelers were Marchetto and the Lala.

“ Dog of a Jew ! ” screamed the black man in his high, cracked voice. “ Will you rob me, and then turn me out of your filthy den ? You shall suffer for it, you Saloniki beast! ”

“ Dog yourself, and son of a dog ! ” bellowed Marchetto, his big face growing fiery red as he blocked the doorway with his bulky shoulders. “ Behold the gratitude of this vile wretch ! ” he cried, as though addressing an audience. “ Look at this insatiate jackal, this porkeater, this defiler of his father’s grave! Oh! beware of touching what is black, for the filth will surely rub off! ”

Exasperated at the Jew’s eloquent abuse, the Lala tried to push him back into the shop, flourishing his light cane in his right hand. In a moment a crowd collected, and the epithets of the combatants were drowned amidst the jeers and laughter of the by-standers, delighted at seeing the dandy keeper of a great harem in the clutches of the sturdy Marchetto.

Abraham looked out, and then turned back to his customer.

“ It is Selim,” he said with a chuckle. “ He has been trying to cheat Marchetto again.”

“ Again ? ” repeated Gregorios, who had at last attained his end. “ And who is Selim, Abraham ? ”

“ Selim ? Everybody in the bazaar knows Selim, the most insolent, avaricious, money-grubbing Lala in Stamboul. He is more like a Persian than anything else. He is the Lala of Laleli Khanum Effendi, who lives at Yeni Köj. They say she is a witch since her husband died,” added Abraham, lowering his voice.

“I have heard so,” said Gregorios calmly. But in reality he was triumphant. He knew now what had become of Alexander Patoff.

The noise outside was rapidly growing to an uproar. Gregorios slipped quickly out of the shop and made his way through the crowd, for he felt that it was time to put a stop to the quarrel. Many of the people knew him, and knew that he was an officer and a man in authority ; recognizing him, they stopped yelling and made way for him.

“ What is this ? ” he cried, violently separating Marchetto and the negro, who were screaming insults at each other and shaking their fists in each other’s faces. “ Stop this noise,” he continued, “ or I will send a score of soldiers down to keep you in order. If the Lala is not satisfied, he can go before the magistrate. So can Marchetto, if he likes. Go! ” he said to the negro, pushing him away and scattering the crowd. “ If you have any complaints to make, go to the magistrate.”

“ Who are you ? ” asked the fellow, insolently.

“ It is none of your business,” answered Gregorios, dragging the man away in the nervous grip of his white hand ; then lowering his voice, he spoke quickly in the man’s ear : “ Do you remember the Bairam, a year ago last summer ? If you are not quiet, I will ask you what became of the chain of that watch, of the silver box, and especially of that beautiful ring with the sapphire and two diamonds. Moreover, I may ask you what became of a certain Frank Effendi, to whom they belonged, — do you understand ? ”

The man trembled in every joint, and a greenish livid hue seemed to drive the blackness out of his face.

“ I know nothing! ” he gasped hysterically. But Balsamides let him go.

“ Be quick,” he said. “ The watch will be paid for, but do not venture to come to the bazaar again for some time. Fear nothing, — I have an eye to your safety.”

The last speech was perhaps somewhat ambiguous, but the man, being once released, dived into a narrow passage and disappeared. The crowd of Jews had shrunk into their shops again. Gregorios hastily concluded a bargain with Abraham, and then returned to finish his conversation with Marchetto. He found the latter mopping his forehead, and talking excitedly to a couple of sympathetic Hebrews who had entered his place of business. On seeing Balsamides they immediately left the shop.

“ I have sent him away,” said Gregorios. “ He will not trouble you again.”

“ It is not my fault if the dog of a Turk is angry,” answered Marchetto.

“ I hardly know. He says he had left a watch with you to be sold, and that now he can get neither the watch nor the money. You like to keep your customers waiting when they have anything to sell, Marchetto. How long is it since he gave you the watch ? ”

“On my head, it is only three weeks,” answered the Jew. “ How can I sell a watch in three weeks and get the money for it ? An Effendi took the watch yesterday to show it to Vartan, the jeweler. He is a friend of yours, Effendim; you first brought him here a long time ago. His name is a strange name, — Cricks, — a very strange name, like the creaking of an ungreased cart-wheel.”

“ Oh, did he take the watch ? I will speak to him about it. He will pay you immediately. How did the Lala come to have a watch to sell? ”

“ Allah bilir. He is always bringing me things to sell.”

“ Other things ? ”

“ He showed me a gold chain one day in the winter. But it was not curious, so he took it to a jeweler in the jeweler’s tcharshee, who gave him the value of the gold by weight.”

“ Who is he ? ” asked Gregorios, judging that he ought to show some curiosity about the man.

“ I cannot tell,” answered the Jew.

“ That means that you will not, of course. Very well. It is your affair. Curiosity is the mother of deception. Will you give me the Rhodes for ten pounds? ”

They began to bargain again, but nothing was concluded on that day, for Gregorios had got what he wanted, and was anxious to reach home and to see me.

Patoff and I, as usual on Thursday, had made a trip up the Bosphorus, and it was on this occasion that he first pointed out to me the hideous negro. He proved to be the same man I had seen once before, on our very first excursion. To-day he looked more ugly than ever, as he went ashore at Yeni Köj. There was a malignity in his face such as I have never seen equaled in the expression of any human being.

“ I wonder what we shall find out,” said Paul, thoughtfully. “I have a very strong belief that he is the fellow who sold the watch. If he is, poor Alexander can have had but small chance of escape. Did you ever see such a diabolical face ? Of course it may be a mere fancy, but I cannot rid myself of the thought.”

“ Balsamides will find out,” I replied. “ He can handle those fellows in the bazaar as only an Oriental can.”

It was not long before I heard the story of the morning’s adventure from Gregorios. I found him waiting for me and very impatient. He told his tale triumphantly, dwelling on the fact that Marchetto himself had never suspected that he was interested in the matter.

“ And who is Laleli Khanum Effendi ? ” I inquired, when he had finished. “ And how are we to get into her house ? ”

“ You never heard of Laleli ? You Franks think you know Constantinople, but you know very little in reality. Laleli means ‘ a tulip.’ A pretty name, Tulip! Why not ‘ cabbage rose,’ or ‘ artichoke,’ or ‘ asparagus ’ ? Laleli is an extraordinary woman, my friend, and has been in the habit of doing extraordinary things, ever since she poisoned her husband. She is the sister of a very high and mighty personage, who has been dead some time. She was married to an important officer in the government. She was concerned in the conspiracy against Abdul Azis ; she is said to have poisoned her husband ; she fell in her turn a victim to the conspiracy against Murad, and, though not banished, lost all favor. She managed to keep her fortune, however, which is very large, and she has lived for many years in Yeni Köj. There are all sorts of legends about her. Some say she is old and hideous, others declare that she has preserved her beauty by witchcraft. There is nothing absurd which has not been said of her. She certainly at one time exercised considerable influence in politics. That is all I know of her except this, which I have never believed: it has been said that more than one person has been seen to enter her house, but has never been seen to leave it.”

“ How can one believe that ? ” I asked skeptically. “ If it were really known, her house would have been searched, especially as she is out of favor.”

“It is curious, however,” said Gregorios, without contradicting me, “ that we should have traced Alexander Patoff’s personal possessions to her house.”

“ What shall we do next ? ” I asked.

“ There are only two courses open. In the first place, we can easily catch the Lala who sold the watch, and take him to a quiet place.”

“ Well, do you suppose he will tell us what he knows ? ”

“ We will torture him,” said Balsamides, coolly. I confess that I was rather startled by the calm way in which he made the proposition. I inwardly determined that we should do nothing of the kind.

“ What is the other alternative ? ” I inquired, without showing any surprise.

“To break into the house and make a search, I suppose,” answered my friend, still quite unmoved, and speaking as though he were proposing a picnic on the Bosphorus.

“ That is not an easy matter,” I remarked, “ besides being slightly illegal.”

“ Whatever we do must be illegal,” answered Gregorios. “ If we begin to use the law, the Khanum will have timely warning. If Alexander is still alive and imprisoned in her house, it would be the work of a moment to drop him into the Bosphorus. If he is dead already, we should have less chance of getting evidence of the fact by using legal means than by extracting a confession by bribery or violence.”

“ In other words, you think it is indispensable that we should undertake a burglary ? ”

“ Unless we succeed in persuading the Lala to confess,” said Balsamides.

“ This is a very unpleasant business,” I remarked, with a pardonable hesitation. “ I do not quite see where it will end. If we break into the house and find nothing, we shall be amenable to the law. I object to that.”

“ Very well. What do you propose ? ”

“ I cannot say what would be best. In my opinion, Paul should consult with his ambassador, and take his advice. But before all else it is necessary to find out whether Alexander is dead or alive.”

“ Of course. That is precisely what I want to find out,” answered Balsamides, rather impatiently. “ The person who can best answer the question is Selim, the Lala.”

“ I object to using violence,” I said, boldly. “ I fancy he might be bribed. Those fellows will do anything for money.”

“You do not know them. They will commit any baseness for money, except betraying their masters. It has been tried a hundred times. We may avoid using violence, as you call it, but the man must be frightened with the show of it. The people who can be bribed are the women slaves of the harem. But they are not easily reached.”

“ It is not impossible, though,” I answered. “ Nevertheless, if I were acting alone, I would put the matter in the hands of the Russian embassy.”

“ Do you think they would hesitate at any means of getting information, any more than I would ? ” inquired Gregorios, scornfully.

“We shall see,” I said. “We must discuss the matter thoroughly before doing anything more. I have no experience of affairs of this sort; your knowledge of them is very great. On the other hand, I am more prudent than you are, and I do not like to risk everything on one throw of the dice.”

“ We might set fire to the house and burn them out,” said Gregorios, thoughtfully. “ The danger would be that we might burn Alexander alive.”

My friend did not stick at trifles. Under his cold exterior lurked the desperate rashness of the true Oriental, ready to blaze out at any moment.

“ No,” I said, laughing ; “ that would not do, either. Is it not possible to send a spy into the house ? It seems to me that the thing might be done. What sort of women are they who gain access to the harems ? ”

“ Women who sell finery and sweetmeats ; women who amuse the Khanums by dressing their hair, when they have any, in the Frank style ; women who tell stories ” —

“ A story-teller would do,” I said. “ They are often admitted, are they not ? It is almost the only amusement those poor creatures have. I fancy that one who could interest them might be admitted again and again.”

Balsamides was silent, and smoked meditatively for some minutes.

“ That is an idea,” he said at last. “ I know of such a woman, and I dare say she could get in. But if she did, she might go to the house twenty times, and get no information worth having.”

“ Never mind. It would be a great step to establish a means of communication with the interior of the house. You could easily force the Lala to recommend the story-teller to his Khanum. She could tell us about the internal arrangement of the place, at all events, which would make it easier for us to search the house, if we ever got a chance.”

“ If one could get as far as that, it would be a wise precaution and a benefit to the human race to convey a little strychnine to the Khanum in a sweetmeat,” said Gregorios, with a laugh.

“ How horribly bloodthirsty you are! ” I answered, laughing in my turn. “ I believe you would massacre half of Stamboul to find a man who may be dead already.”

“ It is our way of looking at things, I suppose,” returned Balsamides. “I will see the story-teller, and explain as much as possible of the situation. What I most fear is that we may have to take somebody else into our confidence.”

“ Do none of the ladies in the embassies know this Laleli, as you call her ? ” I asked.

“ Yes. Many Frank ladies have been to see her. But their visits are merely the satisfaction of curiosity on the one side, and of formality on the other.”

“ I was wondering whether one of them would not be the best person in whom to confide.”

“ Not yet,” said Balsamides.

And so our interview ended. When I saw Paul and told him the news, he seemed to think that the search was already at an end. I found it hard to persuade him that a week or two might elapse before anything definite was known. In his enthusiasm he insisted that I should answer John Carvel’s letter by begging him to come at once. As he was the person most concerned, I yielded, and wrote.

“ It is strange,” said Paul, " that we should have accomplished more in a single month than has been done by all the official searching in a year and a half.”

“ The reason is very simple,” I answered. " The Lala did not chance to be in want of money until lately. Everything we have discovered has been found out by means of that watch.”

“ Griggs,” said Paul, " Balsamides is a very clever fellow, but he has not thought of asking one question. Why was the Lala never in want of money before?”

“ I do not know.”

“ Because, in some way or other, he is out of favor with his Khanum. If that is the case, this is the time to bribe him.”

“Very true,” I said. 44 In any case, if he is trying to get money, it is a sign that he needs it, in spite of our friend’s declaration that he and his kind cannot be bribed.”

F. Marion Crawford.