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Our crowd was waiting admission outside the chapel and we did not need our guide any more. But that didn't matter--he needed us. He accepted his salary to date, but he did not accept his discharge. We went into the Chapel of Bones, which is a rather grewsome place, with a lot of decorations made out of bleached human remnants-not a pleasant spot in which to linger-and when we came out again there was our guide, ready to take us in hand. We resisted feebly, but surrendered. We didn't care for the regular programme and wanted to wander away, anyhow. He suggested that we go to the Governor's palace and armory, so we went there.
The armory was worth while. It was full of armor of the departed knights and of old arms of every sort. We think breech-loading guns are modern, but we saw them there from the sixteenth century-long, deadly-looking weapons-and there were rope guns; also little mortars not more than three or four inches deep—mere toys—a stout man with a pile of rocks would be more effective, I should think.
We saw the trumpet, too, that led La Valette to victory in 1565, and some precious documents—among them the Grant of Malta made by Charles V. to the knights, 1530. These were interesting things and we lingered there until within a minute of noon, when we went out into the grounds to see the great bronze clock on the Governor's palace strike twelve.
And all the rest of our party had collected in the grounds of the Governor's palace, and pretty soon the Governor came out and made us a little speech of welcome and invited us to luncheon on the lawn,
with cold chicken and ices and nice fizzy drinks. No, that was not what happened—not exactly. Our crowd was not there, and we did not see the Governor and we were not invited to picnic on the lawn. Otherwise the statement is correct. We did go out into the grounds, and we did see the clock strike. The other things are what we thought should happen, and they would have happened if we had received our just deserts.
Well, then, those things did not materialize, but our guide did. He would always materialize, so long as we stayed in Malta. So we re-engaged him and signified that we wanted food. He led us away to what seemed to be a hotel, but the clerk, who did not speak English, regarded us doubtfully. Then the landlord came. He had a supply of English but no food. No one is fed at a hotel in Malta who has not ordered in advance. At least, that is what he said, and we went away, sorrowing.
We were not alone. A crowd had collected while we were inside a crowd of the would-be guides and already beggars, with sellers and torments of various kinds. We were assailed as soon as we touched the street, and our guide, who was not very robust, was not entirely able to protect us from them. He did steer us to a restaurant, however, a decent enough little place, and on the steps outside they disputed for us and wrangled over us and divided us up while we ate. It was like the powers getting ready to dismember China.
We laid out our programme for the afternoon. We wanted to get some Maltese lace, and to make a little
side trip by rail to Citta Vecchia (the old city) which two native gentlemen at our table told us would give us a good idea of the country. Then we paid our bill, had a battle with a bootblack who had surreptitiously been polishing my shoes, fought our way through the barbarians without, and finally escaped by sheer flight, our guide at our heels.
We told him that we wanted lace. Ah, a smile that was like morning overspread his face. He took us to a large shop, where we found some of our friends already negotiating, but we did not linger. We said we wanted to find a little shopa place where it was made. He led us to another bazaar. Again we said, “No, a little shop-a very little shop, on a back street.”
Clearly he was disappointed. He did find one for us, however, a tiny place in an alley, with two bent, wrinkled women weaving lace outside the door.
How their deft fingers made those little bobbins fly, and what beautiful stuff it was, creamy white silk in the most wonderful patterns and stitches. They showed us their stock eagerly, and they had masses of it. Then we bargained and cheapened and haggled, in the approved fashion we have picked up along the way, and went off at last with our purchases, everybody happy—they because they would have taken less, we because we would have given more. Only our guide was a bit solemn. I suppose his commission was modest enough in a place like that.
He took us to the railway-station—the only railway in Malta. Then I made a discovery: we had no current coin of the realm and the railway would take only English money. No matter. We had discharged our guide three times and paid him each separate time. He was a capitalist now, and he promptly advanced the needed funds. We were
grateful, and invited him to go along. But he said “No,” that he would remain at the station until our return.
He was faithful, you see, and he trusted us. Besides, we couldn't escape. There was only that one road and train. We took our seats in an open car, on account of the scenery. We didn't know it was thirdclass till later, but we didn't mind that. What we did mind was plunging into a thick, black, choking tunnel as soon as we started; then another and another. This was scenery with a vengeance.
We were out at last, and in a different world. Whatever was modern in Malta had been left behind. This was wholly Eastern—Syrian-a piece out of the Holy , Land, if the pictures tell us the truth. Everywhere were the one-story, flat-topped architecture and the olive-trees of the Holy Land pictures; everywhere stony fields and myriads of stone walls.
At a bound we had come from what was only a few hundred years ago, mingled with to-day, to what was a few thousand years ago, mingled with nothing modern whatever. There is no touch of English dominion here, or French, or Italian. This might be Syrian or Moorish; it might be, and is Maltese.
We saw men ploughing with a single cow and a crooked stick in a manner that has prevailed here always. We mentioned the matter to our railwayconductor, who was a sociable person and had not much to do.
“You are from America,” he said.
He spoke the English of the colonies, and it seemed incredible that he should not know about these things. We broke it to him as gently as possible that we did not plough with a crooked stick in America, but with such ploughs as were used in England. However, that meant nothing to him, as he had never been off the island of Malta in his life. His name was Carina, he told us, and his parents and grandparents before him had been born on the island. Still, I think he