A Night in a Moorish Harem/The Captain's Fourth Story

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During one of my stays in port, my uncle, who was a member of the ministry, needed a confidential messenger to one of the German courts. I accepted the mission with pleasure. The business took me but a few days, during which I mingled in the festivities of the court. The sovereign was very gracious to me; his spouse I did not see, though it was said she was in the gallery of the dining hall during one of the state dinners at which I was present. It was known to all when I was to return and on the evening before I started I had declined several invitations that I might get ready to go. Just at nightfall I received the following singular note: A lady sends her compliments to Lord George Herbert and begs that he will call at No. 300,—Street. I hesitated what to do all the time I was enjoying my after-dinner cigar, but I finally put a pistol in my pocket and proceeded to the place named. It was a neat house in a respectable street. I was received at the door by a nice elderly lady and ushered into a well but plainly furnished room. She thanked me for being so kind as to come. 'I have received you at the door myself,’ she said, ‘because I thought best to have my servant away. It is a strange request I have to make of you, but your reputation for gallantry is known to me. May I rely on your honour to keep it secret, whether you grant it or not?' I assured her she might. 'My foster daughter, whom I dearly love,’ she said, ‘is married, but the union has not been blest with children. Her husband is very desirous of having an heir. He blames her very unjustly and is making her life wretched, for she loves him. She can endure his reproaches no longer. I have known it was not her fault and I have advised her to do what necessary to get an heir. Now, my lord, have I advised her rightly?' 'Perhaps so,’ said I, ‘but what have I got to do with it? I am about to leave this city tomorrow, probably never to see it again.' 'That is the very reason,’ she said, ‘that I have invited you to come here to meet her. She has seen you and wishes that heir to inherit your noble blood and handsome person and, this once accomplished, never to see or be seen by its sire for the desire for an heir and not wantonness has influenced her. Do you consent?' 'I must see the lady,’ I replied. 'She would die of mortification if you should see her and reject her,’ said the old lady, ‘but there is no fear of that. If you are pleased with her, go up and kiss her hand when I present you.’ She then conducted me upstairs and open the chamber door. A lady was standing in the centre of the room looking timidly at me as I entered. As soon as I saw the lady I loosened my grasp on the pistol which I had in my pocket. All fear of treachery vanished from my mind and another sentiment immediately took its place. I approached her and kissed her hand. The old lady shut the door and retired. I was alone with a woman not in fact beautiful, but very interesting. Her figure was fine and her features, though irregular, were pleasing. Her look fell to the carpet; the ensign of modesty warmed on her cheeks, receded and paled, then showed again more rosy than before. Her hand trembled in mine. Her attire made no accession to her appearance. She was dressed in plain muslin without an ornament and her hair was plainly brushed; but there was that in her air which convinced me that she was a lady, and that too in an embarrassing position. 'Fair lady,’ said I, ‘your choice has fallen on one who can appreciate your delicacy, notwithstanding the strange circumstances which brought you to this.’ A grateful smile lighted for an instant her fine face, but she involuntarily averted her cheek from the kiss I pressed upon it. She did not reply, nor did she speak once during the whole interview. By this time I felt that the task of getting her with child would be the most agreeable one that had ever fallen to my lot to perform. She stood passive in a deep reverie, looking almost unconscious while I unfastened her dress and let it fall to the floor. Her undergarments were of the finest lawn and lace. The stud that fastened her chemise was a large diamond, which only confirmed my opinion she was a lady of high station. I kissed her beautiful white bosoms which were now disclosed. She awoke from her reverie with another deep blush and, going to the other side of the bed, she took off her shoes with her back to me, so that I did not get a glimpse of one finely turned ankle. Then she dropped off her petticoat and got into bed, covering herself up, face and all. I soon undressed and followed. I took her in my arms and kissed her tenderly. Though she suffered my lips to revel on her ripe mouth, her lips did not move to return my kisses. My hands wandered over all parts of her fine form. As long as they lingered on her bosoms she was passive, but when I played too wantonly with the curls at her loins, she grew restless. I was excited by her modesty to the highest pitch of desire. I drew her unresisting form beneath me and, parting her thighs, my crest entered the Elysian Fields—indeed the promised joy of the Elysian Fields would not have tempted me to withdraw it. It entered where it was surrounded by moist, clinging tissues alive with affinity to its sensitive touch. Still she lay passive. I put my arms under the small of her back and, holding her firmly, gave a plunge which sent my crest until it touched her womb. She could no longer refrain from manifesting her delight; she wrapped her arms around me. I gave another thrust which unsealed the fountain of my glans, and then another which planted the gushing sperm in the midst of her loins. She held my face between her hands and gazed entranced with her eyes while the life-giving fluid dashed against her womb. She melted while she gazed and put up her lips for the first and only kiss she exchanged with me. Our lips were glued together till the last drop trickled from my crest, and the thrilling rapture slowly faded and left me nearly lifeless in her arms. The life which she had ravished from me could hardly fail to quicken in her womb, and her melting gaze as she reviewed them could hardly fail to stamp the nascent life with my features. We lay perfectly still for a long time; then the door opened and the old lady called me. I got up to see what she wanted. 'You must go now,’ she said. I told her I could not bear to leave my charming companion. ‘You will undo what I hope you have done if you stay longer.’ Then she whispered, ‘I do not wish to startle her, but there is danger of discovery. Lie perfectly still on your back, darling,’ she added to the lady in bed, ‘and it will be a fine boy.' I dressed and stepped to the bedside. The sheet was drawn; her forehead alone was visible. I kissed it and withdrew. The old lady soon followed me and put a ring into my hand as she dismissed me hastily from the front door. ‘She begs you to accept it in token of her admiration and respect. Her love is all for her husband.' I should not have accepted it if I had seen, as I did on reaching home, that it was a diamond worth thousands. On the inside of the ring were engraved the words, IN HONOUR... I left the city, as had been announced, on the fist morning train. Before proceeding far we met with an accident. No one was injured, but we would have to wait for the afternoon train. I took a carriage and rode back to the city rather than kick my heels. As we approached the main street we could not cross. We had to pause, to allow the cortege of the sovereign to pass. By his side was sitting his august spouse. It was the lady with whom I had lain the night before. She supposed me far on my journey or she would not have left the seclusion of her palace. She rode unconscious of the presence of the man whose seed was even then germinating in her womb. It is six months since then. The newspapers which we received at port a few days ago announce that there is great rejoicing in a certain capital city. The august spouse of the sovereign is in an interesting condition.

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'You see what you have got to expect, Inez,’ said Anna. ‘You, I and Myrzella. What will the black-eyed Pasha say if three blue-eyed babies are born the same night in the harem?' The ladies laughed and then began teasing for another story. 'One of you must tell it then,’ said I. When they found that I would tell no more, enquiries were made for the scarf. Virginia produced it and threw it to a lady she called El Jelis, from Arabia. She, like Anna, was very tall and slender, but there all resemblance between them ceased. The Arab girl had hair and eyes as black as jet, and skin the colour of rich cream. She took the scarf and shook it out to its full length, displaying the spots where Zuleika's blood had stained it. 'You will excuse me if I give you a dance instead of a story,’ she said, springing lightly to her feet and waving the long thin fabric high over her head. She accompanied the waving motion with the most beautiful dancing I ever saw. Her slender but firmly rounded limbs seemed to float through the air. Her little feet came to the carpet with a touch too light to crush a rose petal. Her shining black hair was unbound and reached to her ankles; it floated from side to side as she danced like a cloud. Her motion without losing its grace became more rapid; the colour came to her cheeks; her large, lustrous, black eyes flashed from under the dark lashes. Still the dance became more rapid. Her round bosoms did not even quiver, so free from any jar was every graceful spring. At last her whole form seemed to float in the air, then one toe lightly touched the carpet and the other pointed to the ceiling directly over her head. For an instant between her naked thighs was disclosed a long, crimson gash and the parted curls. In another instant she was standing upright and motionless before me. Her hands were folded on her bosoms and her head bowed in oriental submission. Her hair slowly ceased to wave and fell to her ankles in a veil. 'It was very graceful, my charming El Jelis,’ said I, ‘but I cannot let you off from your story.' 'My story is so disgraceful that I cannot look you in the face and tell it,’ she said and, turning with her back towards me, the beautiful girl told the following story.