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“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.
PICKED up a cold that rainy day at Ephesus. 1 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 Phoenicia 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 literature and I tried to imagine that little early party of ex
cursionists climbing the steep path to Palestine on their sorry nags.
It is warm in Syria, even now, but we were not too warm, riding; besides, we were going steadily uphill, and by-and-by somebody pointed out a white streak along the mountain-top, and it was snow. Then, after a long time, we got to a place where the vegetation was very scanty and there were no more terraced hills, but only barren peaks and sand, where the wind blew cold and colder, and presently the snow lay right along our way. We had reached the highest point then-five thousand feet above the sea. In five hours we had come thirty-six miles—thirty-five in length and one straight up in the air. Somebody said:
“Look, there is Mount Hermon!”
And, sure enough, away to the south, though nigh upon us it seemed so close that one might put out his hand and touch it, almost—there rose a stately, snow-clad elevation which, once seen, dominated the barren landscape. It was so pure white against the blue-so impressive in its massive dignity—the eye followed it across every vista, longed for it when immediate peaks rose between, welcomed it when time after time it rose grandly into view.
With an altitude of between nine and ten thousand feet, Mount Hermon is the highest mountain in Syria, I believe certainly the most important. The Bible is full of it. The Amorites and the Hivites, and most of the other tribes that Joshua buried or persuaded to go away, had their lands under Mount Hermon (all of them in sight of it), and that grand old hill looked down on Joshua's slaughter of men and women