The Krooman had passed this way before, and informed his companions that no one ever ventured on the path in wet weather; that it was at all times considered dangerous; but that, as it saved a tiresome journey of seven miles around the mountain, it was generally taken in dry weather. He also told them that the name of "Jew's Leap" was given to the precipice, from a party of Jews having once been forced over it.
It was in the night-time. They had met a numerous party of Moors coming in the opposite direction. Neither party could turn back, a contest arose, and several on both sides were hurled over the precipice into the sea.
On this occasion as many Moors as Jews had been thrown from the path; but it had pleased the former to give the spot the name of the "Jew's Leap," which it still bears.
Before venturing upon this dangerous road, Rais Mourad was careful to see that no one was coming from the opposite direction.
After shouting at the top of his voice, and hearing no reply, he led the way, bidding his followers to trust more to their animals than to themselves.
As the white slaves entered on the pass, two Moors were left behind to follow them, and when all had proceeded a short distance along the ledge, the horse ridden by Harry Blount became frightened. It was a young animal, and having been reared on the plains of the desert, was unused to mountain-road.
While the other horses were walking along very cautiously, Harry's steed suddenly stopped, and refused to go any farther.
In such a place a rider has good cause to be alarmed at any eccentricity of behavior in the animal he bestrides, and Harry was just preparing to dismount, when the animal commenced making a retrograde movement, as if determined to turn about.
Harry was behind his companions, and closely followed by one of the Moors. The latter becoming alarmed for his own safety, struck the young Englishman's horse a blow with his musket to make it move forward.
The next instant the hind legs of the refractory animal were over the edge of the precipice, and its body, with the weight of its rider clinging to his neck, was about evenly balanced as on the brink. The horse made a violent struggle to avoid going over, with its nose and fore feet laid close along the path, and vainly striving to regain the position from which it had so imprudently parted.
At this moment its rider determined to make a desperate exertion for his life.
Seizing the horse by the ears, and drawing himself up, he placed one foot on the brink of the precipice, and then sprang clear over the horse's head, just as the animal relinquished its hold! In another instant the unfortunate quadruped was precipitated into the sea, its body striking the water with a dull plunge, as if the life had already gone out of it.
The remainder of the ledge was traversed without any difficulty; and after all had got safely over, Harry's companions were loud in congratulating him upon his narrow escape.
The youth remained silent.
His soul was too full of gratitude to God to give any heed to the words of man.
On the evening of the second day after passing the Jew's Leap, Rais Mourad, with his following, reached the city of Mogador; but too late to enter its gates, which were closed for the night.
For a great part of the night, Harry, Colin, and Sailor Bill were unable to sleep.
They were kept awake by the memory of the sufferings they had endured in slavery, but more by the anticipation of liberty, which they believed to be now near.
They arose with the sun call, impatient to enter the city, and learn their fate. Rais Mourad, knowing that no business could be done until three or four hours later, would not permit them to pass into the gate.
For three hours they waited with the greatest impatience. So strongly had their minds been elated with the prospect of getting free, that the delay was creating the opposite extreme of despair, when they were again elated at the sight of Rais Mourad returning to them.
Giving the command to his followers, he led the way into the city.
After passing through several narrow streets, on turning a corner, they saw waving over the roof of one of the houses a sight that filled them with joy inexpressible. It was the flag of Old England!
It indicated the residence of the English consul. On seeing it all three gave forth a loud simultaneous cheer, and hastened forward, in the midst of a crowd of Moorish men, women, and children.
Rais Mourad knocked at the gate of the consulate, which was opened; and the white slaves were ushered into the court-yard. At the same instant two individuals came running forth from the house. They were Terence and Jim!
A fine looking man about fifty years of age, now stepped forward; and taking Harry and Colin by the hand, congratulated them on the certainty of soon recovering their liberty.
The presence of Terence and Jim in the consulate at Mogador, was soon explained. The Arab grazier, after buying them, had started immediately for Swearah, taking his slaves with him. On bringing them to the English consul he was paid a ransom, and they were at once set free. At the same time he had given his promise to purchase the other slaves and bring them to Mogador.
The consul made no hesitation in paying the price that had been promised for Harry, Colin, and Bill; but he did not consider himself justified in expending the money of his government in the redemption of the Krooman, who was not an English subject.
The poor fellow was overwhelmed with despair at the prospect of being restored to a life of slavery.
His old companions in misfortune could not remain tranquil spectators of his grief. They promised he should be free. Each of the middies had wealthy friends on whom he could draw for money, and they were in hopes that some English merchant in the city would advance the amount.
They were not disappointed. On the very next day the Krooman's difficulty was settled to his satisfaction.
The consul having mentioned his case to several foreign merchants, a subscription-list was opened, and the amount necessary to the purchase of his freedom was easily obtained.
The three mids were furnished with plenty of everything they required, and only waited the arrival of some English ship to carry them back to the shores of their native land.
They had not long to wait; for shortly after, the tall masts of a British man-of-war threw their shadows athwart the waters of Mogador Bay.
The three middies were once more installed in quarters that befitted them: while Sailor Bill and his brother, as well as their Krooman comrade, found a welcome in the forecastle of the man-of-war.
All three of the young officers rose to rank and distinction in the naval service of their country. It was their good fortune often to come in contact with each other, and talk laughingly of that terrible time, no longer viewed with dread or aversion, when all three of them were serving their apprenticeship as Boy Slaves in the Saaera.