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the long track from the heart of Asia over swamp and steep and across burning sands. At the base of the outer bell was a band of Arabic characters-prayers, no doubt, from the Koran, for the safety of the caravan. I would never leave Smyrna without that bell.
However, one must be cautious. I gave it an indifferent jingle as I passed in and began to examine other things. A murmuring, insinuating Moslem was at my elbow pushing forward the gaudy bits of embroidery and cheaply chased weapons in which I pretended an interest. I dallied and priced, and he grew weary and discouraged. Finally, hesitating at the doorway, I touched the bell again, scarcely noticing it.
My impulse was to fling the money at him and grab the treasure before he changed his mind. But we do not do these things--not any more—we have acquired education. Besides, we have grown professionally proud of our bargains.
“Ho! Sixteen francs! You mean six francs-I give you five."
“No-no—sixtin franc—sixtin! What you think? Here-fine!” He had the precious thing down and was jingling it. Its music fairly enthralled me. But I refused to take it in my hands-if I did I should surrender. “See,” he continued, pointing to the inscription. “Oh, be-eautiful. Here, fiftin francthree dollar!”
He pushed it toward me. I pretended to be interested in a wretchedly new and cheaply woven rug. I had to, to keep steadfast. I waved him off.
“No—no; five francs—no more!"
He hung up the bell and I started to go. He seized it and ran after me.
“Here, mister—fourtin franc-give me!” “Five francs!—no more.”
“No, no, mister—twelve franc-las' price-ver' las' price. Here, see!”
He jingled the bell a little. If he did that once more I was gone at any price.
“Five francs,” I said, with heavy decision. “I'll give you five francs for it—no more."
I faced resolutely around—as resolutely as I couldand pretended really to start.
“Here, mister—ten franc—ten! Mister-mister!”
He followed me, but fortunately he had hung up the bell and couldn't jingle it. I was at least two steps away.
“Eight franc, mister — please — I lose money — I make nothing-mister-seven! seven franc!”
"Five-five francs.” I called it back over my shoulder-indifferently.
“Mister! mister! Six! six franc!”
Confound him! He got hold of that bell again and gave it a jingle. I handed him the six francs. If he had only left it alone, I think I could have held out.
Still, as I look at it now, hanging here in my stateroom, and think of the long lonely nights and the days of sun and storm it has seen, of the far journeys it has travelled in its weary way down the years to me, I do not so much mind that final franc after all. XXIII
| PICKED up a cold that rainy day at Ephesus. I Not an ordinary sniffling cold, but a wrenching, racking cold that made every bone and every tooth jump, and set my eyes to throbbing like the ship's engines. I felt sure I was going to die when we arrived in the harbor of Beirut, and decided that it would be better to die on deck; so I crawled out and dressed, and crept into a steamer-chair, and tried to appreciate the beautiful city that had arisen out of the sea-the upper gateway to Syria.
The Patriarch came along, highly elate. This was where he belonged; this was home; this was Phænicia itself! Fifteen hundred years B.c. Beirut had been a great Phænician seaport, he said, and most of the rare handiwork mentioned in ancient history and mythology had been wrought in this neighborhood. The silver vase of Achilles, the garment which Hecuba gave to Minerva, and the gold-edged bowl of Telemachus were all Phænician, according to the Patriarch, who hinted that he rather hoped to find some such things at Beirut; also some of the celebrated Phoinus, or purple dye, which gave the tribe its name. I said no doubt he would, and, being sick and suffering, added that he might dye himself dead for all I cared, which was a poor joke — besides being an
afterthought, when the Patriarch was well out of range.
I had no idea of going ashore. I was miserably sorry, too, for I was stuffed with guide-book knowledge about Baalbec and Damascus, and had looked forward to that side-trip from the beginning. I knew how Moses felt on Mount Pisgah now, and I was getting so sorry for myself I could hardly stand it, when suddenly the bugle blew the sharp call, “All ashore!” Laura, age fourteen, came racing down the deck, and before I knew it I had my bag-packed the night before—and was going down the ship's ladder into a boat, quarrelling meantime with one of the Reprobates as to whether Beirut was the Berothai of the Old Testament, where David smote Hadadezer and took "exceeding much brass,” or the Berytus of the Roman conquest. It was of no consequence, but it gave life a new purpose, for I wanted to prove that he was wrong. Wherefore I forgot I was going to die, and presently we were ashore and in a railwaystation where there was a contiguous little train ready to start for Baalbec and Damascus, with a lot of men selling oranges, of which Laura and I bought a basketful for a franc, climbed aboard, the bell rang — and the funeral was postponed.
The road followed the sea for a distance, and led through fields of flowers. I had never seen wildflowers like those. They were the crimson anemone mingled riotously with a gorgeous yellow flower—I did not learn its name. The ground was literally massed with them. Never was such a prodigality of bloom.
From Beirut to Baalbec is only about sixty miles; but it takes pretty much all day to get there, for the Lebanon Mountains lie between, and this is a deliberate land. We did not mind. There was plenty to see all along, and our leisurely train gave us ample time.
There were the little stations, where we stopped anywhere from five to fifteen minutes, and got out and mingled with the curious rural life; there were the hills, that had little soil on them, but were terraced and fruitful-some of them to the very summit; there was the old Damascus road, winding with us, or above us, or below us—the road over which Abraham may have travelled, and Adam, too, for that matter, and Eve, when they were sent out of their happy garden. Eden lay not far from here, and the exiles would be likely to come this way, I think. We saw plenty of groups that might have been Abraham and his household, or any of the patriarchs. I did not notice any that suggested Adam and Eve.
The road had another interest for me. Forty-two years ago, before the railroad came this way, the Quaker City pilgrims toiled up through the summer heat, setting out on the “long trip” through the full length of Palestine. Nobody makes it in summer now. Few make it at all, except by rail and in carriages, with good hostelries at the end of every stage. Still, I am glad those first pilgrims made it, or we should not have had that wonderful picture of Syrian summer - time, nor of “Jericho” and “ Baalbec." Those two horses are worth knowing—in literatureand I tried to imagine that little early party of ex