Such an impromptu answer as his would, from any other, have
implied vanity. Yet no man could have been less vain, or
more free from affectation. It probably concealed regret at
finding himself conspicuous.
After dinner at the Birds' one evening we fell to talking of
garrotters. About this time the police reports were full of
cases of garrotting. The victim was seized from behind, one
man gagged or burked him, while another picked his pocket.
'What should you do, Burton?' the Doctor asked, 'if they
tried to garrotte you?'
'I'm quite ready for 'em,' was the answer; and turning up his
sleeve he partially pulled out a dagger, and shoved it back
We tried to make him tell us what became of the Arab boy who
accompanied him to Mecca, and whose suspicions threatened
Burton's betrayal, and, of consequence, his life. I don't
think anyone was present except us two, both of whom he well
knew to be quite shock-proof, but he held his tongue.
'You would have been perfectly justified in saving your own
life at any cost. You would hardly have broken the sixth
commandment by doing so in this case,' I suggested.
'No,' said he gravely, 'and as I had broken all the ten
before, it wouldn't have so much mattered.'
The Doctor roared. It should, however, be stated that Burton
took no less delight in his host's boyish simplicity, than
the other in what he deemed his guest's superb candour.