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any artistic stability when we have so little fixed foundation in what, more than any other one thing, becomes a part of the man himself-his clothing?
These hills are interesting. Some of them have verdure on them, and I can fancy Abraham pasturing his flocks on them, and with little Isaac chasing calves through the dews of Hermon. It would not be the “dews of Hermon,” but I like the sound of that phrase. I believe history does not mention that Abraham and Isaac chased calves. No matter; anybody that keeps flocks has to chase calves now and then, and he has to get his little boy to help him. So Abraham must sometimes have called Isaac quite early in the morning to “go and head off that calf,” just as my father used to call me, and I can imagine how they raced up and down and sweat and panted, and how they said uncomplimentary things about the calf and his family, and declared that there was nothing on earth that could make a person so mad as a fool calf, anyhow.
Travel on the highway has increased-more camels, more donkeys, more patriarchs with their families and flocks. Merchandise trains follow close, one behind the other. Dust rises in a fog and settles on the wayside vegetation. Here and there on the hillsides are villas and entertainment gardens.
A widening of the valley, an expanse of green and bloom, mingled with domes and minarets; a slowing down of speed, a shouting of porters through the sunlit dust, and behold, we have reached the heart and wonder of the East, Damascus, the imperishableolder than history, yet forever young.
THE “PEARL OF THE EAST"
JT is the oldest city in the world. It is the oldest 1 locality mentioned in the Bible, if the Garden of Eden theory be true. I suspect that Noah's flood washed away the garden, and that his grandson, Uz, wanted to commemorate the site by building a city there. At all events, Uz built Damascus, according to Josephus, and he could not have picked a better location than this wide, level plain, watered by these beautiful living streams. That was about 2400 B.C., which means that Damascus was already an old city -five hundred years old, or more—when Abraham overtook Chedorlaomer, King of Elam-Tidal, King of Nations, and two other kings—these four having captured Abraham's nephew, Lot, “who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”
A matter of four kings did not disturb Abraham. He had a better combination than that. He armed his trained servants, three hundred and eighteen in number, “born in his own house,” and went after those kings and “smote them and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus, rescued Lot and brought back the goods."
That is the first Bible mention of Damascus, and it was no doubt a goodly city, even then. After that it appears, time and again, in both the scriptures, and one never fails to feel its importance in the world's story. Five hundred years after Abraham, Thothmes III. thought it worth while to cross over from Egypt to conquer Damascus, and after still another five hundred years King David ravaged the country round about and set up a garrison here. Those were not frequent changes. Damascus does not do things frequently or without reflection. I believe the Medes came next, and after them the Romans, and then, quite recently-recently for Damascus, I mean—only thirteen hundred years ago—the Mohammedans took the place and have held it ever since.
And Damascus herself has remained unchanged. Other cities have risen and prospered and perished even from memory. They did not matter to Damascus. Nothing matters to Damascus. It may have altered its appearance a trifle now and then, but not materially. It is the same Damascus that Abraham knew and that David conquered. I can see both of these old fellows any time I look out of my hotel window; also, the three hundred and eighteen servants born in Abraham's household—all the tableau of the ancient city that has remained forever young.
“Though old as history itself, thou art as fresh as the breath of spring, blooming as thine own rosebud, and fragrant as thine own orange-flower, O Damascus, pearl of the East!”
We are at the Grande Hotel Victoria. All these hotels are “Grande" something or other. A box shanty ten by fifteen is likely to be called “Grande Hotel de France.” However, the Victoria is grand, rather, and quite Oriental in its general atmosphere. The rooms are clean, too, and the Turkish pictures amusing. Furthermore, our rooms look across the river—the soul of Damascus—the water in which Eve first saw her sweet reflected form, if tradition holds. Its banks are bordered by a great thoroughfare now, where against a background of peachbloom and minaret an eternal panorama flows by. Camel trains from Bagdad and the far depths of Persia; mule trains from the Holy Land; donkey trains from nowhere in particular; soldiers with bands playing weird music; groups of Arabs mounted on splendid horses — dark men with long guns, their burnouses flying in the wind. One might sit here forever and drift out of time, out of space, in the fabric of the never-ending story.
Being late in the afternoon, with no programme, Laura and I set out to seek adventure, were immediately adopted by a guide, and steered toward the bazaars. We crossed a public square near the hotel where there were all sorts and conditions of jackasses
—some of them mounted by men, others loaded with every merchandise under the sun. We saw our first unruly donkey just then-a very small donkey mounted by a very fat son of the prophet with a vast turban and beard. It being the Mohammedan Sunday (Friday), he had very likely been to the mosque and to market, and was going home. He had a very large bush broom under his arm, and it may have been this article thrashing up and down on the donkey's flank that made him restive. At all events, he was cavorting about (the donkey, I mean) in a most unseemly fashion for one bestridden by so grave a