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.
Moslems at Prayer
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.
Beyrout and the Mountains of Lebanon
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.
Boot-Blacks of Cairo
Bread Seller in the streets of Cairo
A lady of the Harem
A Nubian Belle
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.
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.
Yet it was the first 'stitch' in the great web, and thousands of eyes were turned towards it on August 25th, 1876, when the very first passenger crossed along it from shore to shore. This passenger was Mr. Farrington, one of the engineers. He wished to encourage his men by a good example, for over that terrible gulf it would soon be necessary for many of them to go. His seat was a small piece of board such as we use for a swing in a playground, and it was attached to the wire by four short ropes. The perilous journey took more than twenty minutes, and the people below watched almost breathlessly as the slender thread swayed up and down with the weight of the traveller. To their eyes it appeared at times as if he was soaring through the air unsupported, so thin was the line by which he hung.
A wolf had an ordinary family of eight young ones. The keepers, probably thinking that these were too many for the captive wolf to bring up alone, divided the family. Four of them were left with their mother, and four of them were placed in charge of a collie. The dog took kindly to her foster-children, and reared them successfully with her own.
Frog collecting lunch
Another machine used for the same purpose [irrigation] is the sakiyeh, or draw-wheel. It consists of a horizontal axle, with a wheel at each end. One of these wheels overhangs the water of a river, a canal, or a well, and over it there passes a long, hanging loop of cords, to which a number of earthen pots are fastened. As the axle and the wheel go round, the pots on the cords are drawn over the wheel, and made to move in a circle like the buckets of a dredging-machine. The lower end of the loop of pots dips in the water, and each pot, as it passes through the water, is filled. It is then slowly drawn up by the turning wheel, and as it passes over the wheel, and is tilted over, it empties the water into a tank, or spout, and passes on downwards, empty, to the river again to take up a new supply.
The commonest of these machines is the shadoof. It is a sort of balance, with a weight at one end and a cord and bucket at the other. The arm of the balance rests upon a bar of wood, which is supported by two wooden posts, the whole resembling the horizontal bar of a gymnasium. The posts are about five feet high and two or three feet apart, and they are set up on the top of a bank, close to the edge, so that the end of the arm which bears the bucket may project over the water. This arm is made out of a slender branch of a tree, and is fastened to the horizontal bar by loops of cord. Its thicker end is loaded with a large, round ball of mud, while the other carries a long cord, or even a slender stick, at the end of which is the bucket, or bowl, in which the water is raised.
The 'bin,' or 'vina,' may be regarded as the national instrument of India.
The 'bin' is made of wood, and has seven strings, two of steel, the rest of silver, and these are plucked by the two first fingers of the performer, who wears little metal shields made for the purpose. It is tuned by pegs, and has two gourds suspended below, each usually measuring about fourteen inches across. These, being of irregular shape and gaily coloured, give a very picturesque look to the instrument.
Another favourite instrument is the 'kimmori.' This also derives its sounding powers from gourds, of which three are usually slung from the tube forming the body. It is said by the natives to have been invented by one of the singers of the 'Brahma Loka,' or heaven of the Brahmins. The 'kimmori' is made of a pipe of bamboo or blackwood, with frets or screws, which should be fashioned of the scales of the pangolin, or scaly ant-eater, though more often they are made of bone or metal. It has only two strings, one touching the frets, the other carried above them. The tail-piece is always carved like the breast of a kite, and the instrument is frequently found sculptured on ancient temples and shrines, especially in Mysore, in the south of Hindustan.
In many parts of India iron is made in a very simple way, which has probably been followed for centuries without much change. The iron-worker builds a little furnace of clay, in the form of a tower which is narrower at the top than at the bottom. This tower is only four or five feet high, so that it is after all no bigger than the towers and castles which children build in the sand; but its builder makes good use of it, small though it is. The top of it is open, and at the bottom there are one or two openings in the side, through which the iron-maker can blow the air of a pair of bellows. These bellows are goat-skin bags, which have been made by sewing up whole skins. A hollow bamboo is fitted into the end of each bag, in order to form the pipes of the bellows and there is also another opening in each bag which may be closed very quickly by the man who blows the bellows. He works the bellows by pressing upon the goat-skin bags with his feet, so as to drive out the air through the pipe which is fixed in the end of each bag. He works two bags at one time, pressing first upon one and then upon the other. While he is pressing one bag, he raises the other, which is empty, and allows it to fill again through the hole which has been left in it for that purpose. In this way he contrives to have one bag filling with air, while he is squeezing the air out of the other.
The ploughs used by these Syrian cultivators are little more than a bent wooden stock, having a long bar, by which it may be drawn. The lend of the stock is in shape somewhat like that which is formed by a human foot and leg, the foot being the 'share,' which scratches up the soil. That part which corresponds to the leg is prolonged upwards into a long handle, with the help of which the ploughman guides the plough. The bar by which the plough is drawn is attached to the inner or fore side of the bend, at the ankle, as it were. Two oxen of a small kind are, as a rule, attached to each plough.
The wandering Arabs subsist almost entirely upon bread, wild herbs, and milk. It is rather strange that they should eat so much bread, because they never remain sufficiently long in one place to sow wheat and reap the harvest from it. They are compelled to buy all their corn from the people who live in towns, and have cultivated fields. When these townsmen and villagers have gathered in their harvests, the Arabs of the desert draw near their habitations, and send messengers to buy up corn for the tribe, and perhaps also to sell the 'flocks' of wool which they have shorn from their sheep.