The Cadi was thunderstruck, and caressing his beard with grave affection thoughtfully said: "Allah! Allah! For forty years have I been judge, but never was a cause pleaded in this fashion before." Hadji was a married man, but even Turkish married men are not invulnerable to the charms of other women.
He replied: "O my friend, withdraw the hand of reproach from the skirt of my fatality, for I have frequently reflected on this advice which you offer me, and find it easier to suffer contumely on his account than to forego his company; and philosophers have said: 'It is less arduous to persist in the labor of courting than to restrain the eye from contemplating a beloved object': Whoever devotes his heart to a soul deluder puts his beard or reputation into the hands of another.
The firm met me very pleasantly. They joked me a little about my new beard and the extra fat they declared they saw on me, and then the welcomings were over. I took my place at my old desk with a firm resolution to let other men do the traveling; I would stick to the store.
This last was the uppermost thought in my mind when I followed Ben Gibson below to see the captain. Captain Rogers was a lanky man with a sandy beard and a quiet blue eye. He did not look as though he ever had, or ever could, be hurried or disturbed. Had I been a Triton that had just come abroad I reckon he would have eyed me quite as calmly and listened as tranquilly to my story.
But I don't quite see the object of your visit to the Abbey the other day. You gave me the shock of my life, I think. I hadn't the least idea who you were that beard makes a wonderful difference." Dunn laughed quietly. "It's a good disguise," he admitted. "I didn't quite know myself first time I looked in a mirror. We went to the Abbey to prepare for a burglary there."
Despite the youth of his eyes, despite the uprightness, the utter freedom from superfluous flesh from the ugly shaky bulkiness of age in his tall and stalwart figure, still he is old old in the eyes of nineteen as old as father, perhaps though in much better preservation forty-eight or forty-nine; for is not his hair iron-gray, and his heavy mustache, and the thick and silky beard that falls on his broad breast, are they not iron-gray too?
"You are right, André," said a very obsequious young man, whom they called Milleflores. This was the friend, the parasite of André Certa, a young mestizo of swarthy complexion, whose thin beard gave a singular appearance to his countenance.
"You?" he cried, slapping his hand on his attenuated thigh, and leaning over till his beard touched Swithin. "You have come? You followed us?" "It seems so," Swithin grunted out. "You throw in your lot with us. Is it possible? You you are a knight-errant then!" "Good God!" said Swithin. Boleskey, flogging his dejected steed, cantered forward in the moonlight.
Nobody but a friend could be so angry as that. I became a little crestfallen. Our chief engineer also took a characteristic view of my action, but in a kindlier spirit. He was young, too, but very thin, and with a mist of fluffy brown beard all round his haggard face.
A faint smile bent his iron lips, and, muttering something in his beard, he took up a pen, scratched a few lines, and handed me the paper. I glanced at it, and saw it was an order to give me any horse I liked from his stable. I began to thank him; but he stopped me, saying: "Show the order to Sarlaboux; and if you take my advice you will choose Lizette, the dun mare.