Haroun-al-Raschid died in 809. At his death his great empire fell immediately into civil war and confusion, and the next great event of unusual importance in this region of the world comes two hundred years later when the Turks, under the chiefs of the great family of the Seljuks, poured southward out of Turkestan, and not only conquered the empire of Bagdad, but Asia Minor also. Coming from the northeast as they did, they were able to outflank the great barrier of the Taurus Mountains, which had hitherto held back the Moslems. They were still much the same people as those of whom Yuan Chwang gave us a glimpse four hundred years earlier, but now they were Moslems, and Moslems of the primitive type, men whom Abu Bekr would have welcomed to Islam. They caused a great revival of vigour in Islam, and they turned the minds of the Moslem world once more in the direction of a religious war against Christendom.
And the military campaigns that now began were among the most brilliant in the world’s history. Arabia had suddenly become a garden of fine men. The name of Khalid stands out as the brightest star in a constellation of able and devoted Moslem generals. Whenever he commanded he was victorious, and when the jealousy of the second Caliph, Omar, degraded him unjustly and inexcusably, he made no ado, but served Allah cheerfully and well as a subordinate to those over whom he had ruled.
is impressed during his first days in Cairo with the spectacle of runners in front of carriages to warn people to get out of the way. These fellows have a picturesque dress and muscular legs, and their duty is to clear the way, by keeping a few yards in advance and warning people that a carriage is coming. An appendage of this sort is called a syce, and formerly it was necessary that he should be a native born Egyptian, but at present a Nubian may aspire to the position, and it is not unusual to see syces of the complexion of charcoal in front of elegant carriages.
Everywhere through Egypt water is filtered in large jars, some of them holding nearly a barrel, and it is carried on the heads of women in lesser jars that contain from four to six gallons.
A Nubian Belle
A lady of the Harem
Bread Seller in the streets of Cairo
Boot-Blacks of Cairo
But the wonder of Baalbek is in the stones used in its construction. Hewn stones, twelve, fifteen, and twenty feet long, and proportionately wide and high, are frequent in the walls and substructures. You grow weary of saying: “There’s one!” “Look at this!” “and this!” “and this!” You wander down in the underground passages, and the size of the stones, placed as precisely as bricks in a wall of a building of to-day, fairly astounds you; you come out, and look on the wall of the temple, and you find stones twenty-four, twenty-eight, and thirty feet long, and proportionally wide and high. You see stones of this sort away up in the air at the tip of the columns, and you wonder how they got there.
Beyrout and the Mountains of Lebanon
A few years ago some Greek and Italian scoundrels “put up a job” to plunder one of the mosques at Constantinople. They were weeks at work, perfecting their plans, and managed to get their plunder safe on board a schooner which was waiting in the sea of Marmora, a mile or two from shore. They sailed away in triumph, but the electric telegraph, which has brought so many scoundrels to justice, caused them to be overhauled at the Dardanelles.
The schooner was captured and brought back to Constantinople; the property was returned to the mosque, and the enterprising gentlemen who removed it without authority received the polite attentions of a Turkish headsman. Not only they, but the entire crew of the schooner down to the cook and cabin boy—also a cat and two kittens—were decapitated, without fear or favor.
“Bismillah!” (in the name of God) shouted the executioner each time he swung his sword. “Inshallah!” (God is willing) responded the attendant, as he gathered up the heads one by one and stowed them away in a sack.
Moslems at Prayer
The police were very civil, and the “cavass,” or police officer on duty in front of our party, kept the population from crowding us in conveniently close. The “cavass” was arrayed in gorgeous style, and a franc slipped into his hand proved a good investment; where he had before used words he now used a stick, and soon 150convinced the multitude that it had no rights which he or we were bound to respect. We had front places, and the fellow even brought a couple of bricks on which the lady of our party could stand and thus preserve her feet from the dampness of the earth.
An Egyptian Eunuch
The Story Teller of the Desert
The beast par excellence of Egypt is the donkey; he ought to have a place on the national coat-of-arms, as much so as the llama has on that of Peru. The horses of Egypt are magnificent, some of pure Arabian, and some of a cross between English and Arabian stock, and are famous for their speed and beauty. But they are a luxury that not everybody can afford, as their support requires a constant outlay, not to speak of the first cost of the property. But the donkey is universal, and everybody can have one, unless he is the poorest of the poor.
At every hotel door there are groups of them ready saddled at all hours of the day, and you can hire them cheaply. If you can make a bargain in advance you can hire a donkey at three or four francs a day, inclusive of the boy, to drive him, though the latter generally looks for backsheesh in addition to the price of the beast and saddle. I have hired donkeys frequently for half a franc an hour, though the hotel keepers tell you that a franc an hour is the proper fare.
An Arab school is a curiosity. The pupils study their lessons aloud, and make the place about as noisy as a political meeting, and how they can learn, any thing is a surprise to a person from the Occident, where silence is considered desirable in a school-room.
The term sakkieh is applied to all the apparatus for raising water, but the proper name for the Egyptian pole and bucket is shadoof. The shadoof is very ancient, as it is represented on the walls of the tombs constructed three or four thousand years ago.
Shoe peddler in the Bazaar
One of our favorite amusements at each landing-place was to make the natives scramble for money. They came down in large numbers, sometimes two or three hundred of them, and kept up a continual howl of “Backsheesh, O, Howadji!” that sounded very much like the murmurs of a mob. They gathered on the bank opposite the stern of the boat, and were ready to catch all the money we would throw to them. We had a supply of copper for just such cases, and by a judicious use of it, we made a franc go a great ways, and this was the way we would distribute it.
One of us would take a copper, and after balancing and aiming it several times, would give it a toss. A mass of hands would be stretched to receive it, and the crowd would sway in the direction of the falling coin. If it struck in the dirt, a dozen Arabs would spring upon the place where it fell, and there would be a scramble for it. Sometimes the struggle would be so fierce, that the cloud of dust raised thereby would completely conceal the combatants, and they would emerge with torn garments