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whisper each other; and one makes a remark
and passes it on; and presently they begin to
exchange jokes, and indulge in a high degree
of noiseless merriment at their own observation,
speculations, and comments, until it
becomes quite apparent that I am getting the
worst of it. I retire with a modest
unconscious air, which seems to delight them

Ironed, barricaded, and guarded, as these
men are, they sometimes attempt an escape,
though without success. Their chief hope
often turns upon bribing one of the wardens;
for these prisonerssettled for life as they
may behave really the means of bribing.
Most of them have gold in Melbourne in care
of a friend, or in the banks, or secreted at
some of the diggings.


Matthias, the Levantine merchant, had
spent his whole life, from his boy-time
upward, in travelling for the sake of gain, to
the East and to the West, and to the islands of
the South Seas. He had returned to his native
place, Tarsus, in the full vigour of manhood,
and was reported to have amassed great
wealth. His first step was to make a prudent
call upon the governor, and to present him
with a purse and a string of pearls, in order
to bespeak his good will. He then built himself
a spacious palace in the midst of a garden
on the borders of a stream, and began to lead
a quiet life, resting after the fatigues of his
many voyages. Most persons considered him
to be the happiest of merchants; but those
who were introduced to his intimacy knew
that his constant companions were thought
and sadness. When he had departed in his
youth, he had left his father, and his mother,
and his brothers, and his sisters in health,
although poor; but, when he returned in
hopes to gild the remainder of their days,
he found that the hand of death had fallen
upon them every one, and that there was no
one to share his prosperity: and a blight
came over his heart.

The gossips in the bazaars soon began to talk
of his case, and it was then that Hanna the
Christian tailor one day said in a loud voice
to his opposite neighbour the Jewish money-
changer, "I will lay the value of my stock
that the merchant Matthias will find
consolation in marriage; that he will choose the
most beautiful of our maidens; and that he
will found a family which shall be celebrated
in this city as long as its prosperity endures."
To this the Jew replied: "What is the value
of thy stock? Three jackets returned upon
thy hands, a rusty pair of scissors, an old stool,
and some bundles of thread? Verily the risk
is not great." The Christian said a prayer or
two to himself, that he might not curse his
neighbour, and then answered: "I will
throw in Zarifeh, the ebony-black girl whom
I bought last spring to follow my wife when
she goes out with the little Gorges to the
gardens. What sayest thou now?"

The Jew pondered awhile, leaning his grey
beard on the breast of his caftan. He remembered
that forty years before he, too, had
returned from travel with his money-bags,
and had found his house desolate; and that
he had devoted himself ever since to moody
reflection, and to the heaping of mahboub
upon mahboub. The thought had therefore
become fixed in his mind that when the middle
time of life comes, there can remain no affection
in the heart, either of Christian, or of
Jew, or of Mahommadan, but for gold. So he
said: "Let the odds be equal. I will venture
five hundred pieces against thy five hundred
pieces, that within five years the merchant
Matthias does not take to his bosom a wife."
"Agreed!" cried the Christian. The neighbours
were called in as witnesses, and every
one laughed at the absurdity of the dispute.

Matthias was not long in learning that a
wager had been laid upon his future life; and,
in passing through the bazaar, he stopped one
day and said sternly to the Christian tailor:
"Son of rashness, why hast thou risked more
than the whole of thy havings upon a matter
which is only known to Heaven? I have
looked upon all the maidens of my people,
and no emotion has stirred within me. Verily
thou wilt become a prey to this Jew."

"My lord," replied the tailor, smiling, "it is
impossible for a good man to remain all his
life alone. If thou wilt come to my house and
see my wife and my little Gorges dancing in
the arms of the ebony-black girl, Zarifeh, thou
wilt surely relent and seek at once to be as I
am. Perhaps thou hast not well looked around
thee. There is Miriam, the daughter of our
baker, who is of majestic presence, being as
big as thyself. She will suit thee to a hair;
and, if thou desirest, my wife shall make
proposals for thee this afternoon." Matthias
laughed and frowned, and went on, and the
Jew chuckling in his beard said: "O Hanna,
for how much wilt thou free thyself from thy
wager? Wilt thou pay a hundred pieces and
let all be said?" But the Christian replied:
''In five years Saint Philotea wore away a
stone as big as this stool with her kisses and
her tearsin five years the heart of this man
may melt."

Matthias went not on his way unmoved
after his conversation with the Christian
tailor. He began to think that perhaps,
indeed, he was wearing away his life uselessly
in solitude. There was certainly no beauty
and no satisfaction in that manner of being.
It was better to take to himself a companion.
But where find her? Amongst all the frivolous
daughters of Tarsus, was there one with whom
he would not be more lonely than with himself?
Their mothers had taught them
nothing but love of dress, and love of
themselves. How could their capricious and
selfish natures find pleasure in communion
with a man whom this world had sore tried,

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