Early one morning, Antonio, a noble youth of sixteen,
was wandering by
the seashore. He had just come from a high school in
Salerno, Italy, and
wished to spend the Easter holidays at his father's
ancestral home. The
earth looked gay in all the beauty of spring, and the
sea shone in the
rosy light of the morning sun. Antonio's heart glowed
with adoration as
he gazed upon the scene, and he thanked the Creator of
wonders. With hurried steps he continued his way,
thinking of his home
and the reception awaiting him.
His parents were of noble birth. They had lost
considerable property and
money; but they desired to give their son every
advantage and—what was
worth more than money—an excellent education. From his
childhood, they had taught him to reverence God and
respect the laws.
All his talents were being carefully developed. At a
sacrifice, they had sent him to the high school. Here
himself many pleasures in which his richer classmates
in-  dulged, and
tried in every way to live economically. He made no
secret of his lack
of money, nor did he envy those who possessed more than
he did. So on
this particular morning we find Antonio saving
traveling expenses by
making the journey to his home on foot.
The path led through some tall bushes and curved around
a huge rock.
Here he suddenly espied a queer looking vessel lying at
men with swarthy faces, clothed in a strange, odd
fashion, were drawing
water from a spring which gushed from the rock. They
were pirates from
Algiers. As soon as they caught sight of the boy, they
sprang upon him,
like tigers upon a harmless lamb, seized him, dragged
him to the ship,
robbed him of his beautiful clothing, dressed him like
a slave, bound
him hand and foot and placed him beside some other
captives, who greeted
Antonio with loud cries.
When Antonio had recovered from the first great shock,
he folded his
chained hands, and turning his eyes towards the
heavens, he cried aloud
to God for strength to bear this great trial, and for
from the hands of his enemies.
The other prisoners, mostly Italians, had understood
his prayers and
were deeply touched by his great faith. They soon
and little by little they unfolded to one another the
story of their
lives. One prisoner, well versed
 in law, who knew
showed the boy much sympathy. Another prisoner, a
sailor, grieved over
the old parents whose mainstay he had been for many
years. "Oh," sighed
he, "now hunger and want will overtake them." Another,
somewhat older than the rest, was the saddest of them
all. He sat apart
at one end of the ship, holding his head in his hand
silently. He was the father of five children. He
grieved sorely when he
thought what his absence would mean to them. Antonio
tried to comfort
the old man with the assurance that some rescuer would
be sent to save
All the prisoners listened to Antonio. His appearance,
his cheerfulness, his faith, his trust brightened them
all and gave them
renewed hope. Then the fisherman stood up and said:
"This boy has been
sent to cheer us. Let us trust as he does, and some
day, perhaps, our
chains may be removed." Then he began to sing and all
joined in the song.
 The pirates now weighed anchor, and slowly the ship
began to move.
Antonio watched the mountains, the hills, the temples
and the palaces
gradually become smaller and smaller and finally fade
from view. Then a
great pain at leaving his beloved fatherland, his sunny
his heart. Soon he was able to see nothing but the
heavens and the vast
expanse of water.
For several days the vessel sailed hither and thither,
in search of more
prey. Suddenly the pirates spied in the distance a
warship, which was in
pursuit of them. The prisoners rejoiced in silence and
felt buoyed by
the hope of an early rescue. The pirates lashed the
prisoners to greater
activity, and made them help with the oars. Under cover
of the night,
the pirates made their escape.
As the morning sun broke over the sea, Antonio gazed
upon the waters,
and saw nothing of the warship. His heart sank, and he
repress his tears. But suddenly he raised his voice,
and said to his
fellow-prisoners, "Though our trusting prayers have not
 they will not pass unheeded, and our deliverance
will surely come."
In less than an hour they saw in the distance the city
glistening in the sunlight. Little by little they were
distinguish the houses, and the Temple of the Turks,
with the sign of
the Crescent upon it.
The ship anchored, the prisoners were landed, and after
a short rest
were led through the narrow, dirty streets to the
market place. Here
they were exhibited for sale like cattle. The
purchasers passed among
the prisoners, and examined them as they would horses.
In order to
display their strength, the prisoners were obliged to
lift heavy stones,
placed there for that purpose. Many sales were made.
The lawyer, the
sailor and several others went for a good price. As
Antonio could not
lift the heavier stones, the buyers considered him too
weak for a slave
and scornfully passed him by.
A little removed from the crowd, there stood a merchant
with a very
wrinkled face, who seemed to be taking but little
interest in the sale.
After all the captives had been sold, except Antonio,
stepped nearer, put on his spectacles, and surveyed
Antonio from head to
foot. He examined his hands, and hesitated when he
found them soft and
white. "But," said the merchant, speaking in Italian,
"there must be
some-  thing that you have learned." Antonio thought
a moment, and not
wishing to hide anything, said confidently that he
could do clerical
work and could write in the Italian and French
languages. "Hm, hm," said
the merchant, "that is something, but what else can you
Antonio said, "I understand Latin and Greek."
"Oh, my, such wares we cannot use here. Is there
nothing else that you
"Yes," answered Antonio, "I can sing and play the
"I wish I had an instrument at hand," said the
merchant; "but suppose
you sing a song for me."
Antonio did as the old man wished, and his voice was
sweet and clear.
The merchant offered three gold pieces for Antonio, but
as the dealers
kept on raising the price, the merchant shrugged his
and went on.
The pirates called him back and offered him the boy for
ten gold pieces.
The merchant paid the price, and the boy belonged to
It grieved Antonio to think that he had been bought
like a horse or a
dog; but his trust and faith were so steadfast that he
knew, in the
fullness of time, some good would result from it.
The merchant was named Jesseph. He carried on a slave
business, but only
occasionally. Slaves who were accustomed to rough, hard
deigned to purchase; such as were young, active,
refined or clever
suited his purpose best. Besides, he tried to buy at
the lowest figure,
and sell at a great profit. He certainly hoped to sell
Antonio at a high
When he reached home, he said to his overseer: "See
what a fine specimen
I have brought. Notice his manly bearing and refined,
handsome face. See
the intelligence that beams from his eyes. All these
things fill me with
the expectation of soon disposing of him profitably.
"Now," said he, turning to Antonio, "go with my
overseer and buy
yourself a guitar of the very best make." Then,
addressing the overseer,
he said, "Be sure you pay the very least amount
When they returned Jesseph bade Antonio play and sing.
"Oh, that is beautiful!" cried he. "That touches the
heart. You talk
well and you sing well; both are good recommendations
and will certainly
secure for you a fine position." And, thought he to
himself, "will bring
me a good price, too."
Jesseph did not try to sell Antonio immediately. He
hoped to teach him a
little of the language, manners and customs of the
Turks, so that he
could the better fill a position in a Turkish
household. He gave him
instruction, and was surprised
 at his rapid
progress. He fed him well
and housed him well, and exacted from him daily labor
at clerical work.
Often Antonio was obliged to unpack large cases of
goods; but he
performed all the work with patience, cheerfulness and
IN THE TURKISH FAMILY
 A year
had slowly passed. One day Jesseph called
Antonio to him and
said: "I have some good news to impart. I have secured
a very desirable
position for you, and I am certain that you will meet
Jesseph bade Antonio gather together his things, and
provided him with a
suitable outfit. At the end of the week, he conducted
Antonio to a
Turkish house in the heart of the city. The servant,
their arrival, ushered them into a magnificent
The master of the house, a Turk, clad in rich Turkish
garments, sat upon
a divan, smoking a long bamboo pipe which was filled
tobacco. Beside him, on a low table, stood a cup of
The Master of the House
Turning to Antonio, the Turk said, "I have been told
that you are a fine
singer and player. Let me hear you perform."
Modestly Antonio addressed the Turk and said: "I can
sing nothing in
your language; I know only Italian songs."
"That will please me, as I understand Italian. Just
sing and play what
you know best," said the Turk.
 Then Antonio, who felt himself an outcast from his
own pleasant, sunny
Italy, and transported as a captive to Africa, softly
lifted his voice,
and sang a song of home and fatherland, with deep
The Turk listened attentively, the smoke rising from
his pipe, and said
as soon as the song was ended: "Bravo! your talent
After plying Antonio with a few more questions, he
said, "I think you
possess the necessary qualifications."
Then the Turk counted out one hundred gold pieces to
Jesseph and laid
them upon the table. Jesseph counted them and placed
them in his leather
bag. "Your honor," said he, turning to the Turk, "will
be pleased with
this bargain, I am sure; and you, Antonio, must show by
your good works
that you are worthy the price. Live well! Adieu!"
The Turk, Ashmed by name, was a rich merchant who
with other countries. He wished Antonio to carry on his
with French and Italian merchants, and to serve in his
As it was now time to dine, he directed Antonio to
prepare himself and
then proceed to the dining-room.
Here Antonio became acquainted with the other members
of the household.
At the table there
 were four persons, Ashmed, his
wife, Fatime, and
their two children, a boy and a girl.
As Ashmed's wife removed the veil which had concealed
her face, Antonio
was struck by her exquisite beauty. The children, who
were very well
behaved, greeted him in a friendly way and watched him
Antonio tried to do his best, and felt amply repaid
when Ashmed said:
"Your services this day have pleased us. Now you may
sing and play for
"Now you may sing and play for us."
As Antonio had noticed the affection which existed in
this household, he
sang a sweet Italian song of motherly love.
"The song is beautiful," said the girl. And the boy
said, "I wish I
could sing like that."
"Very well," said the father, "Antonio shall teach
The children were overjoyed, and Antonio assured the
father that it
would give him great pleasure to instruct them. The
music served as a
bond to draw them closer, and soon the children grew
very fond of
Antonio. This pleased the parents, and won for Antonio
 Ashmed now decided to take his family, Antonio
included, to visit his
country estate, which lay in the southwestern part of
Algeria near the
mountains. Here he owned a large house, surrounded by a
garden. A short distance from the house stood a great
number of olive
trees belonging to the estate. Many slaves were busily
gathering the olives, which were afterwards pressed to
extract the oil.
Shortly after their arrival, Ashmed took his family to
view the estate
and to watch the laborers finishing their day's work.
The sun was fast
declining and the men, before leaving the grounds for
the day, tried to
extinguish a small fire which they had shortly before
stamped on the burning material and scattered it,
leaving a brand or two
to die out slowly.
Ashmed and Fatime walked on to view the mountains,
whose tops glowed in
the sunlight, while the valley lay in shadow. The two
themselves chasing insects that looked to them like
Suddenly there came down the mountain path a ferocious
bristling mane and wide
 open mouth. All fled
toward the house, pale with
fright. The little girl, Almira, who could not run so
fast, lost her
footing and fell helpless on the ground as the lion was
Antonio quickly seized a glowing fire-brand, swung it
in circles and
thus renewed the flames. With this fiery torch whirling
before him, he
walked boldly in the direction of the lion.
He knew that all animals fear fire. The lion stumbled,
shook his mane, uttered a roar that brought a
thunderous echo from the
mountains, then slowly retreated, always keeping his
eyes fixed upon the
torch. The enraged lion again stood still, growled and
than before, and once more stood ready to spring.
Antonio plucked up
courage, and steadily swung his fiery weapon before
him. The lion stood
still for the third time. Suddenly it turned, trotted
up the mountain
path, and soon disappeared in the darkness of the
In the meantime the frightened child had reached her
mother, who had
tried hard to save her, but had found herself too
helpless to move.
Almira sank into her mother's arms, overcome with the
shock. The mother
pressed her child's pale face close to her own, and
their tears mingled.
The father turned his eyes, full of gratitude, toward
heaven. He drew
Antonio, inwardly trembling, close to his side and
pressed his hands in
silent thanks. Little Aladin caressed
 his sister
and said: "How glad I
am that you are saved. If Antonio had not been here,
the lion would have
The father and mother praised Antonio for his heroism.
But Antonio was
only too glad to have saved Almira; and at night he
thanked God for the
strength and courage which He had sent him to save a
his whole life Antonio had never slept so peacefully
as he did on
this night; never had he arisen from his bed in such a
happy frame of
mind as on the following morning. He walked out into
the garden and
gazed for a long time at the sun, just peeping over the
thought it had never shone so brightly. Never had the
so blue or the flowers more vivid. Each dewdrop, too,
seemed to be more
brilliant. All nature proclaimed itself friendlier than
ever. With the
fragrance of the flowers, his grateful prayer ascended
to heaven. As he
went about gathering blossoms for the decoration of the
house, he met
his master, Ashmed, who wished him a pleasant
"Come with me; I have something important to tell you,"
He took Antonio affectionately by the hand and led him
to a pathway
lined on both sides with flowering bushes, where they
walked up and down
for a few moments in deep silence. After a short pause,
Ashmed said: "I
am greatly indebted to you, Antonio. You have saved my
moment I realize your bravery more and
 more fully.
From this hour you
shall no longer be my slave, but I will look upon you
as my son. You
shall share all our joys."
For a moment Antonio seemed unable to utter a word, so
completely was he
lost in thought and overcome with emotion. Oh, the
delight of being once
more free, with the possibility of some day clasping in
his arms his
loved ones, still so far away. Suddenly awaking from
Antonio thanked Ashmed again and again.
Resuming their walk, Antonio talked of his childhood
and his home in
Italy; and so tenderly and pathetically did he speak of
his parents that
Ashmed's heart was deeply moved.
Appreciating the confidence and love which he felt
drawing him closer
and closer to the Turk, Antonio continued the
conversation. He vividly
described his home and country, and expressed a great
longing to visit
the familiar scenes again, and be clasped in the arms
of his parents.
This awoke in Ashmed a sense of the great loss which
Antonio and his
parents had suffered. As he had on the previous day
almost lost his dear
Almira, he now understood much better what the loss of
a child could
mean. He began to think how noble it would be to
restore Antonio to his
parents. He said nothing, however, and together they
walked toward home.
When Antonio entered the house he found Fatime awaiting
 "Good Antonio!" she cried, as he entered, "you
certainly performed a
heroic deed yesterday. You snatched my child from
death's grasp, and you
did it at the risk of your own life."
"It was no more than my duty," said Antonio.
Then Almira took his hand and said: "Antonio, how good
you were to save
me"; and she kissed him again and again.
Fatime then led him to talk of himself, and became
in the tale of his home and early training. Her
mother's heart went out
to the boy who had saved her child.
Breakfast had been long delayed. As Ashmed now entered
the room, the
meal was soon dispatched, and the children went with
Antonio to an
adjoining room, where they sang and played till dinner
 Ashmed and Fatime withdrew to the library, and seated
enjoy a quiet half-hour in conversation.
"My dear husband," said his wife, "I wish you had come
a few moments
sooner, and you would have heard a sad story. It was so
full of love and
longing that if I could help Antonio get back to his
mother I feel that
I should be repaying him, in a measure at least, for
saving my child.
Oh, how much better I understand now what a mother must
feel at the loss
of a child."
Ashmed's face brightened as he heard these words. "How
thankful I am
that you are so minded," said he. "I feel just as you
do, and I wish to
discuss the matter fully with you."
Fatime was ready with plans at once. "You have," said
she, "often spoken
of taking a trip to Italy and making your residence
there. What could
better suit your purpose than to do it now. Our
treasures of gold and
silver, pearls, diamonds and other valuables we could
take with us. Our
landed estates and all your wares we could sell. Let us
do so as soon as
possible, and leave Algiers forever."
 Ashmed praised his wife for her cleverness, and
resolved to carry out
her plans immediately.
After a few more months of planning, he met with
unusual success in
disposing of his property, real and personal, and with
his wife, the
children and Antonio soon took passage on a steamer
bound for Italy.
As the city of Algiers receded from view, Ashmed and
his family felt
happy. Antonio was the happiest boy in the world. The
thought of home
and parents made the voyage seem a short one to him;
and soon the city
of Salerno could be seen in the distance. When the
steamer reached port,
Ashmed and his family took up their quarters at a
hotel, while Antonio
was permitted to seek his home and family.
One evening, as Antonio's parents were seated beneath a
tree at the door
of their cottage, thinking and talking of their loved
boy, there came
toward them a stranger. At first they did not recognize
him as their
Antonio, for he had grown taller and his complexion
browner; but when
they looked into his face, they saw there such an
expression of love and
tenderness, that they immediately knew their son. Oh,
the great joy of
this meeting, and the embracing and hand-shaking! Words
failed them; for
they were so overcome with emotion that they could not
speak; but they
drew him in triumph into the house. Antonio removed his
cloak and stood
 richly clad, suitable to his station.
His mother soon
prepared a sumptuous meal for him, and while partaking
of it, he related
to his parents the events that had occurred during his
They wept over his woes, and rejoiced over his bravery,
and praised him
for his steadfastness.
At the end of the week Ashmed and his family called
people. Ashmed honored them as if they were his own. He
knew, too, that
they had met with many financial losses, so he had made
out a deed to
them, which he handed to them, saying: "As I have been
you and your son, whom you trained so well, and who
saved my child, I
feel that it is my duty to share my fortune with you.
Here is a deed
which represents one-fourth of my wealth."
"No—no," answered Antonio's father. "Far be it from me
to accept one
penny. True, we are not rich; but neither are we poor,
and in the return
of our long-lost Antonio we feel richly repaid. We
offer you our
gratitude and thank you for your protection of him, and
"I regret that you will not accept my offer, but I
trust you will not
prevent me from bestowing it upon your son, Antonio. He
has been so well
tested that I know riches will not spoil him. Here, my
take this deed."
"I," answered Antonio, "cannot accept your
 handsome gift, but if I may,
I would beg you to use your riches in behalf of those
men who were taken
captive with me on that pirate ship, particularly the
young lawyer, the
poor sailor and the old fisherman, and buy their
freedom for them. There
is a society here in Salerno which devotes its time and
attention to the
needs of the outcast, the lost and the captive; and as
it is in great
need of funds, I know that your donation would be most
acceptable to it
and be productive of much good. I beg you to use the
money in this way.
A greater charitable work you can never perform."
Ashmed answered: "Not only half, but all of this money,
I will give as a
ransom for the three unfortunates you name, and for
This greatly pleased Antonio, and he said: "I thank you
sincerely, and I
am sure that many blessings will be sent you in
RESTORED TO FREEDOM
 After searching for a suitable place to settle, Ashmed
beautiful house not far from Antonio's home. The
visits, and their friendly relations continued for
years and years.
Antonio resumed his studies at the best colleges, his
tuition being paid
by his friend and benefactor.
One day, at Eastertide, Antonio returned home for a
short visit. Ashmed
and his family called upon Antonio, to whom they
presented a letter
which they had just received. In it, Antonio read the
his friend, the lawyer, extended to him, together with
thanks to him and
Ashmed for their kind helpfulness in securing his
liberty for him.
On the following day, as the guests were all seated at
the table, a
knock announced some strangers. They were the old
fisherman and the
young sailor who had been captives with Antonio, but
were now free and
had come to offer their thanks. It was a touching
Ashmed said, "Don't thank me, but rather this boy. He
"Yes," said the old fisherman, "this is the boy
 who appeared to us, like
an angel, and comforted us as we sat in chains. We now
lay our thanks
at his feet."
Antonio waved them back and said, "Thank my dear
parents, for they
taught me by word and example; and everything I have
done is due to
Then Antonio's father stepped into their midst and
raising his eyes to
heaven, said: "All honor and praise we give to God. As
always, He has
made everything turn out for the best. He sends us
great sorrows for
some good purpose; but He also sends us great joys.
When a child follows
the good instructions received from good parents, makes
good use of his
talents, and forgets not to be grateful, he will become
an instrument of
good for the benefit of humanity. Antonio was sent to
you in your
captivity, and through Antonio you were all led back to
Let us give thanks."
After a long silence, the conversation again became
animated. The men
narrated the varied incidents in their lives, and
talked about their
Ashmed gave the men some ready money with which to
start in business,
and they promised to repay him as soon as they were
able. Ashmed did not
wish the money refunded, but they felt that it would be
more manly to do
 As the time for departure arrived, the men bade
Antonio and Ashmed
good-bye, and were off.
The next day Antonio returned to college. He continued
his studies there
for several years, and was graduated with high honors.
In the course of time he became an opera singer of
He always maintained a dignified bearing, free from any
recognizing his gift as coming from God, accepted the
acclamation of the world in all humility.
He found time in his busy life to help the needy, and
later became a
director of the society which we have said was
organized for the rescue
of the outcast. He devoted his voice, his hands, his
strength and his
life to the betterment of mankind.
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