Page:Yule Logs.djvu/129

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113
"A FRENCHMAN'S GRATITUDE"

old friend one who has indeed proved a friend in need. It is to M'sieur de Vignes we owe our lives."

"Pouf!" cried the Mameluke, whom I at once recognised as my former acquaintance; "I have but repaid the debt I owed you, mon ami. When last we met I played you a scurvy trick, and happy am I to be able to make some reparation." And with that he embraced me, much to the horror of Corporal Jones.

Holroyd then told me how, struck with admiration at our heroic defence, M. Drovetti, the French consul-general at Cairo (who had accompanied the Turkish army), had induced the Vizier to offer us quarter. De Vignes was selected to bear the flag of truce, and recognising Holroyd, persuaded him to surrender. In spite of our surrender, the Mamelukes, furious at the losses they had sustained, attempted to massacre the survivors of our force, and were only prevented by the exertions of Eugene de Vignes, who saved our lives at the risk of his own. As it was, several of our wounded were butchered; amongst others, poor Paddy Cantillon.

Naturally I was curious to learn how the French lieutenant had been transformed into an officer of Mamelukes, and that evening I asked him to tell me his story.

"Mais certainement, mon cher," he replied. "At Messina I met, and fell in love with, the lady who is now my wife. Her father, Prince T——, objecting to my attentions, sent his daughter to the convent. By bribing one of the lay-sisters, I obtained an interview, and persuaded Beatrice to elope with me. To return to France would have been difficult, if not impossible, so I determined to fly to Egypt, where my mother's brother, M'sieur Drovetti, was consul-general. I hired a small coasting-vessel, and made all arrangements for our flight. On the appointed night I repaired to the convent. With the assistance of the lay-sister, Beatrice effected her escape from the building, and joined me outside the walls. But somehow her father had