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Posts Tagged ‘eleventh hour’

And the Winner is . . . Someone Who Wasn’t Running

May 17th, 2011 Comments off

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil ElAraby has been elected the new Secretary-General of the Arab League, which is interesting since, until just before the vote, he hadn’t been a candidate. By tradition, the Secretary-General comes from the host country, which means all have been Egyptian, except for one Tunisian when the League was headquartered in Tunis after Egypt’s expulsion due to its peace with Israel. But Egypt’s candidate this time, Mustafa al-Fiqi, was seen as a symbol of the old regime, and many Egyptians opposed the nomination. Qatar fielded a rival candidate, but at the eleventh hour, Egypt announced that Fiqi was withdrawing and that ElAraby would be its candidate; the Qatari withdrew and the deal was done.

ElAraby is a former diplomat with a distinguished career and widely admired in the region; he has also shown a new emphasis in his few weeks as Foreign Minister, being more critical of Israel and seeking openings with Iran.


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The Story Of The Ghost Ship. Part III/IV

July 30th, 2009 Comments off

“When I had slept an hour, I awoke, and heard the noise of walking to
and fro over my head. I thought at first that it was you, but there
were at least twenty running around; I also heard conversation and
cries. At length came heavy steps upon the stairs. After this I was no
longer conscious; but at times my recollection returned for a moment,
and then I saw the same man who is nailed to the mast, sit down at
that table, singing and drinking; and he who lies not far from him on
the floor, in a scarlet cloak, sat near him, and helped him to drink.”
Thus spoke my old servant to me.

You may believe me, my friends, that all was not right to my mind;
for there was no delusion–I too had plainly heard the dead. To sail
in such company was to me horrible; my Ibrahim, however, was again
absorbed in deep reflection. “I have it now!” he exclaimed at length;
there occurred to him, namely, a little verse, which his grandfather,
a man of experience and travel, had taught him, and which could give
assistance against every ghost and demon. He also maintained that we
could, the next night, prevent the unnatural sleep which had come upon
us, by repeating right fervently sentences out of the Koran.

The proposition of the old man pleased me well. In anxious expectation
we saw the night set in. Near the cabin was a little room, to which we
determined to retire. We bored several holes in the door, large enough
to give us a view of the whole cabin; then we shut it as firmly as we
could from within, and Ibrahim wrote the name of the Prophet in all
four corners of the room. Thus we awaited the terrors of the night.

It might again have been about the eleventh hour, when a strong
inclination for sleep began to overpower me. My companion, thereupon,
advised me to repeat some sentences from the Koran, which assisted me
to retain my consciousness. All at once it seemed to become lively
overhead; the ropes creaked, there were steps upon the deck, and
several voices were plainly distinguishable. We remained, a few
moments, in intense anxiety; then we heard something descending the
cabin stairs. When the old man became aware of this, he began to
repeat the words which his grandfather had taught him to use against
spirits and witchcraft:

“Come you, from the air descending,
Rise you from the deep sea-cave,
Spring you forth where flames are blending,
Glide you in the dismal grave:
Allah reigns, let all adore him!
Own him, spirits–bow before him!”

I must confess I did not put much faith in this verse, and my hair
stood on end when the door flew open. The same large, stately man
entered, whom I had seen nailed to the mast. The spike still passed
through the middle of his brain, but he had sheathed his sword. Behind
him entered another, attired with less magnificence, whom also I had
seen lying on the deck. The Captain, for he was unquestionably of this
rank, had a pale countenance, a large black beard, and wildly-rolling
eyes, with which he surveyed the whole apartment. I could see him
distinctly, for he moved over opposite to us; but he appeared not to
observe the door which concealed us. The two seated themselves at the
table, which stood in the centre of the cabin, and spoke loud and
fast, shouting together in an unknown tongue. They continually became
more noisy and earnest, until at length, with doubled fist, the
Captain brought the table a blow which shook the whole apartment. With
wild laughter the other sprang up, and beckoned to the Captain to
follow him. The latter rose, drew his sabre, and then both left the
apartment. We breathed more freely when they were away; but our
anxiety had still for a long time no end. Louder and louder became the
noise upon deck; we heard hasty running to and fro, shouting,
laughing, and howling. At length there came an actually hellish sound,
so that we thought the deck and all the sails would fall down upon us,
the clash of arms, and shrieks–of a sudden all was deep silence.
When, after many hours, we ventured to go forth, we found every thing
as before; not one lay differently–all were as stiff as wooden
figures.

Thus passed we several days on the vessel; it moved continually
towards the East, in which direction, according to my calculation, lay
the land; but if by day it made many miles, by night it appeared to go
back again, for we always found ourselves in the same spot when the
sun went down. We could explain this in no other way, than that the
dead men every night sailed back again with a full breeze. In order to
prevent this, we took in all the sail before it became night, and
employed the same means as at the door in the cabin; we wrote on
parchment the name of the Prophet, and also, in addition, the little
stanza of the grandfather, and bound them upon the furled sail.
Anxiously we awaited the result in our chamber. The ghosts appeared
this time not to rage so wickedly; and, mark, the next morning the
sails were still rolled up as we had left them. During the day we
extended only as much as was necessary to bear the ship gently along,
and so in five days we made considerable headway.

At last, on the morning of the sixth day, we espied land at a short
distance, and thanked Allah and his Prophet for our wonderful
deliverance. This day and the following night we sailed along the
coast, and on the seventh morning thought we discovered a city at no
great distance: with a good deal of trouble we cast an anchor into the
sea, which soon reached the bottom; then launching a boat which stood
upon the deck, we rowed with all our might towards the city. After
half an hour we ran into a river that emptied into the sea, and
stepped ashore. At the gate we inquired what the place was called, and
learned that it was an Indian city, not far from the region to which
at first I had intended to sail. We repaired to a Caravansery, and
refreshed ourselves after our adventurous sail. I there inquired for a
wise and intelligent man, at the same time giving the landlord to
understand that I would like to have one tolerably conversant with
magic. He conducted me to an unsightly house in a remote street,
knocked thereat, and one let me in with the injunction that I should
ask only for Muley.

In the house, came to me a little old man with grizzled beard and a
long nose, to demand my business. I told him I was in search of the
wise Muley; he answered me that he was the man. I then asked his
advice as to what I should do to the dead bodies, and how I must
handle them in order to remove them from the ship.

He answered me that the people of the ship were probably enchanted on
account of a crime somewhere upon the sea: he thought the spell would
be dissolved by bringing them to land, but this could be done only by
taking up the planks on which they lay. In the sight of God and
justice, he said that the ship, together with all the goods, belonged
to me, since I had, as it were, found it; and, if I would keep it very
secret, and make him a small present out of my abundance, he would
assist me with his slaves to remove the bodies. I promised to reward
him richly, and we set out on our expedition with five slaves, who
were supplied with saws and hatchets. On the way, the magician Muley
could not sufficiently praise our happy expedient of binding the
sails around with the sentences from the Koran. He said this was the
only means, by which we could have saved ourselves.