He did not have to wait long for an opportunity, for, returning a few nights later from an unusually late séance at the club, he had scarcely fallen asleep when he was aroused by the shrieks of laughter of native women bathing beneath his window. Springing out of bed, he caught up a shot-gun standing in the corner, slipped in a shell loaded with bird-shot, and, pushing the muzzle out of the window, fired at random. The roar of the discharge was echoed by a chorus of piercing screams and Arabic ejaculations of pain and terror, whereupon the consul, satisfied that he had effectually frightened the disturbers of his rest, returned to bed and to sleep.

An hour later he was reawakened by his excited vice-consul, who burst into the bedroom exclaiming, “You'll have to get out of here quick, Mr. Consul! It won't be healthy for you in Zanzibar after what happened this [Pg 160] morning. There's a German boat in the harbour and if you hurry you'll just about catch her! But there's no time to spare.” “Now, what the devil have I got to get out of here for, confound you?” demanded the consul, now thoroughly awake and thoroughly angry. “Certainly not because I frightened a lot of nigger wenches who were waking me up at four o'clock every morning with their damned hullabaloo?” “Nigger wenches nothing!” exclaimed the vice-consul, as he began to throw his chief's belongings into a trunk. “When you let off that load of bird-shot this morning you peppered the Sultan's favourite wife, and now the old man's fairly hopping with rage and swears that he'll have your life even if you are the American consul.” Forty minutes later ex-Consul Mulligan ascended the gangway of a homeward-bound steamer, for those were the days before the British protectorate, when the tyrannical sultans of Zanzibar were laws unto themselves.

The morning before I left I went with the consul to call on his Highness Seyyid Ali bin Hamoud bin Mohammed, the Sultan of Zanzibar. [3] The 'rickshaw stopped with a jerk in front of the handsome iron gates of the palace; the guard turned out and presented arms, while a negro bugler sounded a barbaric fanfare; an official in white linen and much gold lace met us at the entrance and escorted us up flight after flight of heavily carpeted stairs, until we emerged, breathless and perspiring, [Pg 161] on the breeze-swept upper veranda of the four-story building, which, with its long piazzas and its uncompromising architecture,else like an American summer hotel.

After a quarter of an hour spent in smoking highly perfumed cigarettes, another official announced that his Highness would receive us, and we were ushered into a small room furnished like an office, where a pleasant-looking young negro of twenty-six or so was sitting at an American roll-top desk dictating letters to an English secretary. Like every one else, he was dressed entirely in white linen, with a red tarboosh, gold shoulder-straps, and pumps of white buckskin. Motioning us to be seated, he offered us more of the perfumed cigarettes, inquiring, with an Eton accent, as to the state of my health, when I arrived, what were my impressions of Zanzibar, when I intended to leave, and where I was going. As we were bowing ourselves out, after ten minutes of perfunctory conversation, the Sultan's secretary sidled up and whispered: “His Highness expects that you will give him the pleasure of staying to luncheon.”

[3] Since this was written Sultan Ali bin Hamoud has abdicated in favour of his cousin, Seyyid Khalifa.