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ered what a man's feet are for—that is, some uses I had not known before. They are to assist the hands in performing mechanical labor. All mechanics work barefooted here. They sit flat on the floor or ground, with their various appliances in front of them, and there is scarcely any operation in which the feet do not take part. I came to a turning-lathea whole row of turning-lathes—tiny, crude affairs, down on the ground, of course, driven back and forth with a bow and a string. The workman held the bow in one hand, while the other hand, assisted by the foot, guided the cutting tool. It would never occur to these workmen to put the lathe higher in the air and attach a treadle, leaving both hands free to guide the tool.
Their sawing is the crudest process imaginable. They have no trestles or even saw-bucks. They have only a slanting stick stuck in the ground, and against this, with their feet and one hand, they hold the piece to be sawed, while the other hand runs the earliest saw ever made—the kind Noah used when he built the Ark. Sometimes a sawyer has a helper-a boy who pushes and pulls as the saw runs back and forth.
I bought a Sunday-morning paper. It does not resemble the sixty-four-page New York Sunday dailies. It consists of four small pages, printed in wriggly animalculæ and other aquaria, and contains news four years old-or four hundred, it does not matter. Possibly it denounces the sultan—it is proper to do that just now—but I think not. That would be too current. I think it is still denouncing Constantine.
DAMASCUS, THE GARDEN BEAUTIFUL
| ATER, we drove to the foot of Mohammed's HillL the hill from which the Prophet looked down on the Pearl of the East and decided that as he could have only one paradise he would wait for the next. They have built a little tower to mark the spot where he rested, and we thought we would climb up there.
We didn't, however. The carriages could only go a little way beyond the city outskirts, and when we started to climb that blistering, barren hillside afoot we changed our minds rapidly. We had permission to go as high as we pleased, but it is of no value. Anybody could give it. Laura and I and a German newspaper man were the only ones who toiled up high enough to look down through the mystical haze on the vision Mohammed saw. Heavens! but it was hot up there! And this is March — early spring! How those Quaker City pilgrims stood it to travel across the Syrian desert in August I cannot imagine. In the Innocents I find this observation:
“The sun-flames shot down like shafts of fire that stream out of a blowpipe. The rays seemed to fall in a steady deluge on my head and pass downward like rain from a roof.”.
That is a white-hot description, but not too intense, I think, for Syrian summer-time.
Another thing we noticed up there: Damascus is growing-in that direction at least. Older than history, the place is actually having a boom. All the houses out that way are new-mud-walled, but some of them quite pretentious. They have pushed out far beyond the gardens, across the barren plain, and they are climbing the still more barren slope. They stand there in the baking sun, unshaded as yet by any living thing. One pities the women shut up behind those tiny barred windows. These places will have gardens about them some day. Already their owners are scratching the earth with their crooked sticks, and they will plant and water and make the desert bloom.
Being free in the afternoon, Laura and I engaged Habib and a carriage and went adventuring on our own account. We let Habib manage the excursion, and I shall always remember it as a sweet, restful experience.
We visited a Moslem burying-ground first, and the tomb of Fatima—the original Fatima-Mohammed's beautiful daughter, who married a rival prophet, Ali, yet sleeps to-day with honor in a little mosquelike tomb. We passed a tree said to have been planted by the Mohammedan conqueror of Damascus nearly thirteen hundred years ago-an enormous tree, ten feet through or more-on one side a hollow which would hold a dozen men, standing.
Then at last we came to the gardens of Damascus, and got out and walked among the olive-trees and the peach and almond and apricot-most of them in riotous bloom. Summer cultivation had only just begun, and few workmen were about. Later the gardens will swarm with them, and they will be digging and irrigating, and afterward gathering the fruit, preserving and drying it, and sending it to market. Habib showed us the primitive methods of doing these things.
How sweet and quiet and fragrant it was there among the flowering trees! In one place a little group of Syrian Christians were recreating (it being Sunday), playing some curious dulcimer instrument and singing a weird hymn.
We crossed the garden, and sat on the grass under the peach-bloom while Habib went for the carriage. Sitting there, we realized that the guide-book had been only fair to Damascus.
“For miles around it is a wilderness of gardens-gardens with roses among the tangled shrubberies, and with fruit on the branches overhead. Everywhere among the trees the murmur of unseen rivulets is heard.”
That sounds like fairyland, but it is only Damascus ---Damascus in June, when the fruit is ripening and the water-ways are full.
We drove out of Damascus altogether-far out across a fertile plain, to the slopes of the West Lebanon hills. Then turning, we watched the sun slip down the sky while Habib told us many things. Whatever there is to know, Habib knows, and to localities and landmarks he fitted stories and traditions which brought back all the old atmosphere and made this Damascus the Damascus of fable and dreams.
Habib pointed out landmarks near and far-minarets of the great mosque, the direction of Jerusalem, of Mecca; he showed us where the waters of Damascus rise and where they waste into the desert sands. To the westward was Mount Hermon; southward came the lands of Naphtali, and Bashan where the giant Og once reigned. All below us lay Palestine; Mount Hermon was the watch-tower, Damascus the capital of the North.
Damascus in the sunset, its domes and minarets lifting above the lacing green! There is no more beautiful picture in the world than that. We turned to it again and again when every other interest had waned—the jewel, the "pearl set in emeralds," on the desert's edge. Laura and I will always remember that Sunday evening vision of the old city, the things that Habib told us, and the drive home.
Next to the city itself I think the desert interested
said, and stretches the length of the Red Sea and to the Persian Gulf. A thousand miles down its length lies Mecca, to which pilgrims have journeyed for ages -a horde of them every year. There is a railway, now, as far as Tebook, but Mecca is still six hundred miles beyond. The great annual pilgrimages, made up of the faithful from all over Asia and portions of Europe and Africa, depart from Damascus, and those that survive it return after long months of wasting desert travel. Habib said that a great pilgrimage was returning now; the city was full of holy men.
Then he told us about the dromedary mail that crosses the desert from Damascus to Bagdad, like a through express. It is about five hundred miles across as the stork flies, but the dromedary is not disturbed by distance. He destroys it at the rate of