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Arab custom; but both the caïd and Vertbois, after examining it carefully, exclaimed, It is useless.'
It was an hour before she recovered her senses; and then she looked at us with a sort of vacant stare, her beautiful black eyes being covered with a kind of film.
"Ya, habibi!' she said, seizing my hand. 'O my friend, I am killed.' She made a second effort to make herself heard, and exclaimed in a hoarse whisper, He has killed me.'
'Yes,' said Vertbois, taking me on one side, he has killed her, and he intended to kill her. She was his wife. Every one says so here, and we should have known it before if we had taken the trouble to make inquiries. He murdered her first husband in order to be able to marry her, and she left him when she discovered that he was an assassin.'
It was six o'clock when the fête was brought to this tragic end. As soon as it was dusk the diffa was served, after which there was dancing, a youth taking the place of Aïchouna. The horsemen returned to the camp between eleven and twelve o'clock at night, but without Ben-Arif, who had succeeded in escaping to the mountains.
We visited the tent for the last time at four o'clock in the morning, while the stillness of death reigned over everything. The end of a candle was shedding forth its last rays and spreading a dim light in the interior. Aïchouna was asleep. Assra, worn out with fatigue, with her hair in disorder and her face disfigured with scratches, was crouched on the ground at her mistress's feet. Haoûa was dead. Her arms were stiff, her head was turned a little on one side, and her eyelids were closed in an everlasting sleep. Her forehead was covered with a bandage, and she wore a long string of flowers round her neck similar to the one she had given me the first time I visited her. We took a last look at her from the entrance to the tent, and then, mounting our horses, turned sadly towards home.
* The De Veres, Earls of Oxford, were conspicuous for their devotion to the Red-Rose party.
THIRD SERIES, VOL. V. F.S. VɔL. XXV.