CHAPTER ONE

ABDALLAH PASHA'S SERAGLIO

Her British Majesty's Ship Antler, of which I was in command, lay becalmed one afternoon off the coast of Morocco. I did not allow the steam to be raised for I knew the evening breeze would soon make toward the land. Retiring to my cabin I threw myself upon the sofa. I could not sleep for my thoughts kept wandering back to me beautiful women of London and the favours which some of them had granted me when last on shore. Months had elapsed since then and months more would elapse before I could again hope to quench, in the lap of beauty, the hot desire which now coursed through my veins and distended my genitals. To divert my mind from thoughts at present so imperative I resolved to take a bath. Beneath the stern windows which lighted my cabin lay a boat, into which I got by sliding down a rope which held it to the ship. Then I undressed and plunged into the cool waves. After bathing I redressed, and, reclining in the boat, fell asleep. When I awoke it was dark and I was floating along near the shore. The ship was miles away. The rope which held the boat must have slipped when the breeze sprang up, and the people on the ship being busy getting underway had not noticed me. I had no oars and dared not use the sails for fear the Moorish vessels in sight would discover me. I drifted towards a large building which was the only one to be seen; it rose from the rocks near the water's edge. The approach to the place on which it stood seemed to be from the land side, and all the windows which I could see were high above the ground. The keel of my boat soon grated on the sand and I hastened to pull it among the rocks for concealment, for it was quite possible I might be seized if discovered and sold into slavery. My plan was to wait for the land breeze just before dawn and escape to sea. At this moment I heard a whispered call from above. I looked up and saw two ladies looking down on me from the high windows above, and behind these two were gathered several others whom I could just see in the gloom. 'We have been watching you,’ said the lady, ‘and will try to assist you. Wait where you are.' She spoke in French, which is the common medium of communication among the different nations inhabiting the shores of the Mediterranean, and which had become familiar to me. I now thought this isolated building was a seraglio and I resolved to trust the ladies, who would run even more risk than myself in case of discovery. .....