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his stock, and had therefore sought to purchase fish at first; but that since none could be procured, we should content ourselves with whatever might be found. Four eggs were then produced from a cupboard in the house; but before they were broken, eight paras were demanded of me for them. I desired that their number might be doubled, and the remaining eight paras were also asked for before they were produced. Six paras were then claimed for oil to fry them in, though this was poured out of the same jar from which the lamp was filled, and they seemed to think that they had laid us under great obligations to their hospitality in merely furnishing us with bread and shelter.
All this was so contrary to the behaviour of Arabs in general, and so directly opposite to that of the Mohammedans, and of the Bedouins in particular, that we were forcibly struck with it; nor could even the evident poverty of this religious chief account sufficiently for it; since among the very poorest of the classes named, the same warm hospitality is found as among the richest, varying only in its extent according to their several means. We made a hearty supper, however, and the old Abuna himself, after finishing his portion of the family bowl, came without ceremony to begin a new meal at
our mess, of which he took at least an equal share.
A number of visits were paid in the evening by heads of Christian families, and the topic of conversation was the heretical peculiarities of the English, and their lamentable ignorance of the true religion. Some insisted that none of them believed in the existence of a God; others thought it was still worse that they did not bow to the Pope; many seemed to know that they did not hold the Virgin Mary in esteem, and that the crucifix was not worn by them; and all believed that there were neither churches, priests, fasts, festivals, nor public prayers throughout the country, but that every one followed the devices of his own heart without restraint.
It would have been as easy to have moved a mountain, as to have changed opinions like these; and the task of informing the very igno rant is often an ungrateful one. I barely replied with truth, therefore, to their questions; and, even in doing this, I made more enemies than friends, since it necessarily implied a contradiction of what they before held to be true.
Before the retirement of the party, we talked of our road to Damascus, and it was the opinion of all, that there was danger in every route which could be taken to that city. This was a
subject on which their authority was of some value, and therefore worth consulting them on. By the latest advices from Sham, it appeared that the division of parties grew rather higher every day there, and that the roads in the neighbourhood were therefore infested, and robberies. committed on them with impunity. On the sea-coast it was said to be worse, on account of the domineering insolence of the soldiery, who were now indeed all masters of their own particular districts. Besides the original usurper of the pashalick of Sham, who still continued at Damascus, and the pretensions of Suliman of Acre thereto, it was said that one Ali Pasha, who had been the Capudan Pasha of the Turks, was on his way from Stamboul, to take possession of the city by order of the Sultan. A general belief prevailed also that Toussoun Pasha, the eldest son of Mohammed Ali in Egypt, had designs this way, since he was now at the Sublime Porte, as conqueror of the Wahabees, and deliliverer of the Prophet's tomb; and it was thought that the city of Damascus, which is one of the gates of pilgrimage, would be given to him as a recompense.
Such was the state of things, at the present moment, and the hope of its amelioration was but faint and distant. It was recommended to me, however, to take from hence two armed
men as an escort, and attempt the journey by an unfrequented road, where the danger was thought to be less, from there being less chance of plunder, and consequently fewer adventurers. An arrangement of this nature was so generally approved of, that before we slept, two men were found, who engaged to depart with us in the morning.
JOURNEY ALONG THE LAKE OF TIBERIAS.
FEBRUARY 13th. Having paid for the food of our horses, and purchased some bread of our host for the way, we prepared to mount, when the old grey-bearded Abuna demanded of us a backshish, for our entertainment: although we had already paid for every article consumed by us, a few paras were then given to him, which he accepted with evident avidity, and at sunrise we departed from his dwelling.
Leaving Tiberias, by the same gate at which we entered, we pursued our course to the northward, along the western edge of the lake. The ground rises here, so that the north-west angle of the town stands on a hill, while all the rest of it is low. We observed some fragments of a wall, which might have been part of the in
, backshish, though represented as a word of Persian origin, is in use through most parts of Arabia, to denote a gift or a reward.