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FICTION from POINTS IN TIME / Paul Bowles THE ARMADA LAY under the water, and the land of Spain lay above, color of camels and saffron. Shoubilia, Gharnatta, Kortoba, Magherit, fell under the years, to be remembered at dusk by exiles in Fez. Then Ahmed IV, the Emperor of Morocco, sent a message to Charles the First, telling of his success (illusory) in dealing with the pirates of SIa, and suggesting the need of British aid in combating those of Algeria and Tunis. The Moriscos of Andalucía had made every concession, undergone every indignity, even to being baptized, eating turnips in public, and wearing crucifixes, in the hope of avoiding exile. Notwithstanding, the Inquisition did not consider their conversion a genuine one, and continued to deport them to SIa and Rabat where, since they spoke no Arabic, they were at a great disadvantage. Here the sun was hotter and the waves higher than at home in Almería or Motril. The fishing, at least, was good. At night, in the boats, the men could talk. Every second, ten stars set behind the black water in the west. When we went out in several boats, we spoke of revenge. What would it be like if a Spanish ship appeared and we were to overtake it and climb aboard? How would we make ourselves happy? One day such a ship did come along, sailing straight in our direction. By the time they saw us, it was too late for them to change the course of the ship, and we caught up with them easily, every man pulling on the oars with all his strength. Then we shouted: Allah akbar! and went onto the ship. Only three of our men were lost. We finished off all the Spaniards, took what we could into the boats, and went back to the port. Now that we had seen their blood, we felt better. The ship drifted ashore farther south. Soon we had good luck again, but this time the ship was British. We knew better than to kill any more than we had to. Instead of cutting up the crew and the passengers, we bound them and carried them back to SIa. The prices they fetched were a gift from Allah. Little by little we gave up fishing. We were spending all our time The Missouri Review · 72 building faster boats. When the men of SIa saw this, they set to work doing the same thing. The seas are full of Nazarene ships, they said. There are enough for all. It is pleasing to the Most High that the riches of the infidels should be returned to Islam. The Sultan writes to the kings in Europe: he deplores the slave traffic, Marrakech lies at a considerable distance from SIa, he is unable to do away with the lawlessness there, notwithstanding the great effort he is putting forth in his attempt to abolish piracy. He does not tell them that he collects one guirch for every ten realized by the trade. In Fez it is said that Moslems spend most of their money on weddings, Jews on Pesagh, and Christians on lawsuits. But what the people of Fez call lawsuits are the frantic attempts by Europeans to secure the audience of local dignitaries willing to help them arrange the payment of ransom for their relatives and countrymen being held as hostages. The Sultan wrote to the British. "Praise be to the most high alone! And Allah's blessing be upon those who are for his prophet. "As for those men thou didst say were taken at sea, I neither know nor have heard anything of them. "Our servant, Mohammed ben Hadu Aater, who came from your presence, told us that lions are scarce in your country, and that they are in high estimation with you. When your servant came to us, he found we had two small young lions; wherefor by him we send them to you." Heavy sea and a gale from the east. An English privateer sailed into the bay at daybreak. We dispatched four men to bring the ship into harbor. Then we all went quickly to the shore at the foot of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 69-79
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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