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most inevitably also spend much money, if, as is the common experience, visits are to be repeated.
But this is only one of the numerous bazaars that are to be found all about this congested district. There is another just across the Mouski, on the other side among the closely set houses -a deep lane that is even more easily overlooked than the well-trodden path to J. Cohen's. Search along the Mouski near this point until you find a green doorway that gives upon a dark and aromatic alley, whence waft all the odors of Arabia. It leads to the domain of spice, and through its incense-laden atmosphere the way proceeds to the scent bazaar, perhaps the most delectable in Cairo. But as you value your peace of mind discourage all offers of guidance. Who ventures into the bazaars attended by a dragoman of any sort invites extortion of the most barefaced kind. Go to the scent bazaar, by all means, - but go alone.
Mahmoud Suleiman, maker and vender of perfumes, sits at the receipt of customers in his little booth not far from the entrance of the bazaar. He is a bony individual with a single eye and gently smiling jaws. He squats in the midst of his wares, bobbing and smirking, and reaching with exquisite airs and graces toward an array of gummy bottles as you approach. He has just sold six bottles of attar of roses to a wealthy woman at twelve shillings a bottle. And behold, he is pleased, for the price was about quadruple what he expected to get, and even though he must share it with the rapacious dragoman who brought milady thither, he can still afford to smile. Sit down, then, before Mahmoud Suleiman and let him smear your wrist with the perfumes of Arabia. Let him lay on first one and then another, you meantime sniffing each in turn. The flavor lasts! Wash as energetically as Lady Macbeth and you shall not remove that aroma from the back of your hands for days to come. Great is Mahmoud Suleiman, parfumeur !
Some incense, burning in a tiny crucible at his left hand, sends up a thin blue aromatic smoke which impregnates the air roundabout. You bargain with him for some attar of roses, assisted by a fat young man who has come up and who intervenes, to your displeasure, over your shoulder. You protest. The fat young man smiles deprecatingly and says, “But zees ees my fadder !”
“Old Mahmoud your father?”
“No, no! I mean, what are you doing here? What's your business ? ”
“Oh! I help my fadder!”
And he tries. But if you are obdurate he will presently depart and leave you free to bargain with that agreeable old swindler, Mahmoud, who naturally wants to get all he can out of you, but who will smilingly sell his wares in the end at a price not so unreasonable, presenting you with a handful of incense as backsheesh, and saying, “I sell you zees so cheap because you come to me without no dragoman !" Even so you have doubtless paid him dear. But what care you? Are not all such as we made to be fleeced when we go a-pleasuring ?
Everywhere through the bazaar district, whether it be in the district of the scents, or of the tents, or of the brasses and cloths, or the sugar, or the turquoises, there is delight. Note here four lusty youths, clad all in that faded blue that is so effective on the native of Cairo, who are braying mustard in a huge mortar. The latter is a stone capital seemingly from an ancient column, it may be of Roman date, and its top has been hollowed out for the base uses of modern trade. Not far away there is a wayside shop for the renovating and reblocking of tarbushes. It looks like a brass cook-stove adorned with huge, brazen dinner-bells, but if you watch you will see that each dinner-bell takes apart and that on the inner mould a red fez has just been pressed into smart and effective shape, — a process which the Cairene dandy requires to have performed about once a week. On his “mastaba" — the little bench before every shop-door
– sits a venerable and be-turbaned patriarch, pulling industriously at his narghileh. A boy hurries by with a tray of coffee for the customers of some near-by shop. A water-carrier tinkles past, his goatskin dripping coolly from across his bent back. You regret that you saw a fellow like him filling a skin that morning in the garbage-infested backwaters of the Nile bank! Still another itinerant vender offers a red liquid from a brass-bound reservoir which he bears painfully suspended on his chest. Mayhap a surreptitious vender of hasheesh sells from beneath his robe a few puffs of the forbidden smoke, for a copper or two, to a knowing native.
The police are everywhere, but they seem not especially efficient. Yonder is an incipient street fight. It looks ugly. Two men are vociferating in fluent Arabic, and each has laid a violent hand on the other's robe. Presently they will pull — if it is a real fight — and one may get his robe torn; but it is likely to end there. Fights in Cairo seldom go beyond that. Perhaps the deadliest insult would be to knock off the offender's tarbush. The tarbush is a
sort of sacred index of the emotions. In the direst straits it is torn from the head and dashed upon the pavement. If a man has lost two piastres, or if his mother has died, or if some other awful catastrophe has occurred, his utmost woe is expressed by dashing his fez upon the ground — after which nothing remains but to pick it up again, replace it, and begin life anew!
The men themselves are certain to strike the beholder at once as prevailingly handsome and, as a rule, rather a happy lot. Most of them are undeniably poor and destined always to be so. For them the basis of daily life is not so much the piastre as the millième — a coin of which the average traveler sees but little. Yet throughout Egypt the people seem as a rule fairly content. They sing at their work. They smile, displaying the most magnificent teeth in all the world. They chew bits of sugar-cane, which is said largely to account for the teeth. Their clothes are simple — on the poorest a flowing robe of faded blue, a turban, some red or yellow shoes, and very little else. The better class wear robes of a better kind — and sometimes rather magnificent gear, with touches of color which command instant admiration. The Copts — useful, apt, intelligent, and, alas, universally despised both by Mohammedans and English, despite all their good qualities — commonly go