Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

THREE SUNDAYS IN A WEEK.

moment a female slave becomes her master's concubine her bonds are broken, and as soon as a male slave can read the first chapter of the Koran (which contains the creed,) he can no longer be held in bondage.

They have three Sundays a week in Tangier. The Mohammedan's comes on Friday, the Jewis on Saturday, and that of the Christian Consuls' on Sunday. The Jews are the most radical. The Moor goes to his mosque about noon on his Sabbath, as on any other day, removes his shoes at the door, performs his ablutions, makes his salaams, pressing his forehead to the pavement time and again, says his prayers, and goes back to his work.

But the Jew shuts up shop; will not touch copper or bronze money at all; soils his fingers with nothing meaner than silver and gold; attends the synagogue devoutly; will not cook or have anything to do with fire ; and religiously refrains from embarking in any enterprise.

The Moor who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca is entitled to high distinction. Men call him Hadji, and he is thenceforward a great personage. Hundreds of Moors come to Tangier every year, and embark for Mecca. They go part of the way in English steamers; and the ten or twelve dollars they pay for passage is about all the trip costs. They take with them a quantity of food, and when the commissary department fails they "skirmish,” as Jack terms it in his sinful, slangy way. From the time they leave till they get home again, they never wash, either on land or sea. They are usually gone from five to seven months, and as they do not change their clothes during all that time, they are totally unfit for the drawing-room when they get back.

Many of them have to rake and scrape a long time to gather together the ten dollars their steamer passage costs; and when one of them gets back he is a bankrupt for ever after. Few Moors can ever build up their fortunes again in one short life time, after so reckless an outlay. In order to confine the dignity of Hadji to gentlemen of patrician blood and possessions, the Emperor decreed that no man should make the pilgrimage save bloated aristocrats who were worth a hundred dollars in specie. But behold how iniquity can circumvent the law! For a consideration, the Jewish money changer lends the pilgrim one hundred dollars long enough for him to swear himself through, and then receives it back before the ship sails out of the harbour.

Spain is the only nation the Moors fear. The reason is, that Spain sends her heaviest ships of war and her loudest guns to astonish these Moslems; while America and other nations, send only a little contemptible tub of a gunboat occasionally. The Moors, like other savages, learn by what they see ; not what they hear or read. We have great fleets in the Mediterranean, but they seldom touch at African ports. The Moors have a small opinion of England, France, and America, and put their repre. sentatives to a deal of red tape circumlocution before they grant

[merged small][ocr errors]

CATS FOR DINNER.

a

them their common rights, let alone a favour. But the moment the Spanish Minister makes a demand, it is acceded to at once, whether it be just or not.

Spain chastised the Moors five or six years ago, about a disputed piece of property opposite Gibraltar, and captured the city of Tetouan. She compromised on an augmentation of her territory; twenty million dollars indemnity in money ; and peace. And then she gave up the city. But she never gave it up until the Spanish soldiers had eaten up all the cats. They would not compromise as long as the cats held out. Spaniards are very fond of cats. On the contrary, the Moors reverence cats as something sacred. So the Spaniards touched them on a tender point that time. Their unfeline conduct in eating up all the Tetouan cats aroused a hatred toward them in the breasts of the Moors, to which even the driving them out of Spain was tame and passionless. Moors and Spaniards are foes for ever now. France had a Minister here once who embittered the nation against him in the most innocent way. He killed a couple of battalions of cats (Tangier is full of them), and made a parlour carpet out of their hides. He made his carpet in circles—first a circle of old gray tom-cats, with their tails all pointing towards the centre ; then a circle of yellow cats; next a circle of black cats and a circle of white ones ; then a circle of all sorts of cats ; and, finally, a centre-piece of assorted kittens. It was very beautiful ; but the Moors curse his memory to this day.

When w. went to call on our American Consul-General, to-day, I noticed that all possible games for parlour amusement seemed to be represented on his centre-tables. I thought that hinted at lonesomeness. The idea was correct. His is the only American family in Tangier. There are many foreign Consuls in this place; but much visiting is not indulged in. Tangier is clear out of the world ; and what is the use of visiting when people have nothing on earth to talk about? There is none. So each Consul's family stays at home chiefly, and amuses itself as best it can. Tangier is full of interest for one day, but after that it is a weary prison. The Consul-General has been here five years, and has got enough of it to do him for a century, and is going home shortly. His family seize upon their letters and papers when the mail arrives, read them over and over again for two days or three, talk them over and over again for two or three more, till they wear them out, and after that, for days together, they eat and drink and sleep, and ride out over the same old road, and see the same old tiresome things that even decades of centuries have scarcely changed, and say never a single word! They have literally nothing whatever to talk about. The arrival of an American man-of-war is a godsend to them. “Oh, Solitude, where are the charms which sages have seen in thy face?” It is the completest exile that I can conceive of. I would seriously recommend to the Government of the United States that when a man commits a crime so heinous

FAREWELL TO TANGIER.

that the law provides no adequate punishment for it, they make him Consul-General to Tangier.

I am glad to have seen Tangier—the second oldest town in the world. But I am ready to bid it good-bye, I believe.

We shall go hence to Gibraltar this evening or in the morning ; and doubtless the Quaker City will sail from that port within the next forty-eight hours.

CHAPTER X.

ocean.

We passed the Fourth of July on board the Quaker City, in mid

It was in all respects a characteristic Mediterranean day -faultlessly beautiful. A cloudless sky; a refreshing summer wind ; a radiant sunshine that glinted cheerily from dancing wavelets instead of crested mountains of water; a sea beneath us that was so wonderfully blue, so richly, brilliantly blue, that it overcame the dullest sensibilities with the spell of its fascination.

They even have fine sunsets on the Mediterranean—a thing that is certainly rare in most quarters of the globe. The evening we sailed away from Gibraltar, that hard-featured rock was swimming in a creamy mist so rich, so soft, so enchantingly vague and dreamy, that even the Oracle, that serene, that inspired, that overpowering humbug, scorned the dinner-gong and tarried to worship!

He said : “Well, that's gorgis, ain't it ! They don't have none of them things in our parts, do they? I consider that them effects is on account of the superior refragability, as you may say, of the sun's diramic combination with the lymphatic forces of the perihelion of Jubiter. What should you think ?”.

“Oh, go to bed !” Dan said that, and went away.

“Oh, yes, it's all very well to say go to bed when a man makes an argument which another man can't answer. Dan don't never stand any chance in an argument with me. And he knows it, too. What should you say, Jack ?”

“Now, doctor, don't you come bothering around me with that dictionary bosh. I don't do you any harm, do I? Then you let me alone.

“He's gone, too. Well, them fellows have all tackled the old Oracle, as they say, but the old man's most too many for 'em. May be the Poet Lariat ain't satisfied with them deductions ? "

The poet replied with a barbarous rhyme, and went below.

"“ 'Pears that he can't qualify, neither. Well, I didn't expect nothing out of him. I never see one of them poets yet that knowed anything. He'll go down, now, and grind out about four reams of the awfullest slush about that old rock, and give it to a consul, or a pilot, or a nigger, or any body he comes across first

CELEBRATION CEREMONIES.

which he can impose on. Pity but somebody'd take that poor old lunatic and dig all that poetry rubbish out of him. Why can't a man put his intellect on to things that's some value? Gibbons, and Hippocratus, and Sarcophagus, and all them old ancient philosophers was down on poets—"

" Doctor," I said, “ you are going to invent authorities, now, and I'll leave you, too. I always enjoy your conversation, notwithstanding the luxuriance of your syllables, when the philosophy you offer rests on your own responsibility ; but when you begin to soar-when you begin to support it with the evidence of authorities who are the creations of your own fancy, I lose confidence.”

That was the way to flatter the doctor. He considered it a sort of acknowledgment on my part of a fear to argue with him. He was always persecuting the passengers with abstruse propositions framed in language that no man could understand, and they endured the exquisite torture a minute or two and then abandoned the field. A triumph like this, over half a dozen antagonists was sufficient for one day ; from that time forward he would patrol the decks beaming blandly upon all comers, and so tranquilly, blissfully happy!

But I digress. The thunder of our two brave cannon announced the Fourth of July, at daylight, to all who were awake. But many of us got our information at a later hour, from the almanac. All the flags were sent aloft, except half a dozen that were needed to decorate portions of the ship below, and in a short time the vessel assumed a holiday appearance. During the morning, meetings were held and all manner of committees set to work on the celebration ceremonies. In the afternoon the ship's company assembled aft, on deck, under the awnings; the flute, the asthmatic melodeon, and the consumptive clarinet crippled the Star Spangled Banner, the choir chased it to cover, and George came in with a peculiarly lacerating screech on the final note and slaughtered it. Nobody mourned.

We carried out the corpse on three cheers (that joke was not intentional and I do not endorse it), and then the President, throned behind a cable-locker with a national flag spread over it, announced the “Reader," who rose up and read that same old Declaration of Independence which we have all listened to so often without paying any attention to what it said ; and after that the President piped the Orator of the Day to quarters, and he made that same old speech about our national greatness which we so religiously believe and so fervently applaud. Now came the choir into court again, with the complaining instruments, and assaulted Hail Columbia ; and when victory hung wavering in the scale, George returned with his dreadful wild-goose stop turned on and the choir won of course. A minister pronounced the benediction, and the patriotic little gathering disbanded. The Fourth of July was safe, as far as the Mediterranean was concerned.

At dinner in the evening, a well-written original poem was

THE CAPTAIN'S ELOQUENT ADDRESS.

[ocr errors]

recited with spirit by one of the ship's captains, and thirteen regular toasts were washed down with several baskets of champagne. The speeches were bad-execrable, almost without exception. In fact, without any exception, but one. Capt. Duncan made a good speech ; he made the only good speech of the evening. He said :

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN :-May we all live to a green old age, and be prosperous and happy. Steward, bring up another basket of champagne.”

It was regarded as a very able effort.

The festivities, so to speak, closed with another of those miraculous balls on the promenade deck. We were not used to dancing on an even keel, though, and it was only a questionable success. But take it altogether, it was a bright, cheerful, pleasant Fourth.

Toward nightfall the next evening, we steamed into the great artificial harbour of this noble city of Marseilles, and saw the dying sunlight gild its clustering spires and ramparts, and flood its leagues of environing verdure with a mellow radiance that touched with an added charm the white villas that flecked the landscape far and near. [Copyright secured according to law.]

There were no stages out, and we could not get on the pier from the ship. It was annoying. We were full of enthusiasm-we wanted to see France ! Just at nightfall our party of three contracted with a waterman for the privilege of using his boat as a bridge-its stern was at our companion ladder and its bow touched the pier. We got in and the fellow backed out into the harbour. I told him in French that all we wanted was to walk over his thwarts and step ashore, and asked him what he went away out there for? He said he could not understand me. I repeated. Still, he could not understand. He appeared to be very ignorant of French. The doctor tried him, but he could not understand the doctor. I asked this boatman to explain his conduct, which he did ; and then I couldn't understand him. Dan said :

“Oh, go to the pier, you old fool—that's where we want to go !"

We reasoned calmly with Dan that it was useless to speak to this foreigner in English-that he had better let us conduct this business in the French language and not let the stranger see how uncultivated he was.

“ Well, go on, go on,” he said, “don't mind me. I don't wish to interfere. Only, if you go on telling him in your kind of French he will never find out where we want to go to. That is what I think about it."

We rebuked him severely for this remark, and said we never knew an ignorant person yet but was prejudiced. The Frenchman spoke again, and the doctor said :

“There, now, Dan, he says he is going to allez to the douain. Means he is going to the hotel. Oh, certainly-we don't know the French language."

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »