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Title: In a Syrian Saddle
Author: Goodrich-Freer, Ada
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note.

Apparent typographical errors have been corrected. The use of hyphens has
been rationalised. Variations in the use of accents have been retained.

Italics are indicated by _underscores_. Small capitals have been
replaced by full capitals. Two lines in blackletter font are indicated
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IN A SYRIAN SADDLE

BY

A. GOODRICH-FREER

 AUTHOR OF
 "INNER JERUSALEM," "OUTER ISLES," ETC.

 METHUEN & CO
 36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
 LONDON


_First Published in 1905_


 THIS RECORD IS DEDICATED

 BY THE LADY
 TO THE DOCTOR

 ON THE EVE OF STARTING TOGETHER UPON A LONGER JOURNEY



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                                                       PAGE

 IN MOAB
    I. GOING TO JERICHO                                           1
   II. STEPPING EASTWARD                                         20
  III. MADABA                                                    51
   IV. MSHATTA                                                   64
    V. AMMÂN                                                     93
   VI. JERASH, AND THE FORDS OF JABBOK                          116
  VII. ES-SALT                                                  145
 VIII. THE JORDAN VALLEY                                        161

 IN GALILEE AND SAMARIA
    I. TO NABLUS                                                178
   II. TO SAMARIA                                               194
  III. TO TAANAK AND MEGIDDO                                    217
   IV. HAIFA AND CARMEL                                         244
    V. NAZARETH AND TABOR                                       258
   VI. THE SEA OF GALILEE                                       277
  VII. TIBERIAS AND BESAN                                       302
 VIII. WEST OF THE JORDAN                                       323

 INDEX                                                          347


IN A SYRIAN SADDLE


IN MOAB



CHAPTER I

GOING TO JERICHO

 "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho"


Life is, in many respects, made very easy in the Holy Land. You can
return home in the afternoon with no anxious forebodings as to how much
waste of time is awaiting you in the shape of cards and notes on the
hall table; you may wear clothes for covering, you may eat for
nourishment; without taking thought for fashion in the one case, or of
competition with your neighbour's cook or gardener in the other.
But—according to our Occidental standards—you cannot consistently
indulge any taste you may happen to have for being grand. Your attempts
at a London, or shall we say a suburban, drawing-room, your "At Home"
days, your Europeanised service, the dress of your womankind—distantly
reminiscent of the ladies' papers and of Answers to Correspondents—are
certain to be complicated by some _contretemps_ provocative only of
mirth. The Oriental himself makes no attempt at being consistent. When
you arrive at his house he spreads a priceless carpet, but omits to
remove last week's dust from off the furniture; he gives you perfumed
coffee, which is like a dream of Olympus, and his servant brings you a
piece of bread in his fingers.

These reflections, and many more, were suggested during the waiting
which accompanied our start in the early sunrise at half-past five on
Saturday, 3rd October 1903. No one could have guessed how grand we
really were, and there were moments then, and later, when the fact
escaped even our own notice. We four, the Lady, the Doctor (of various
forms of scholarship) and the two Sportsmen, were the chosen and proud
companions of the Professor; and the Professor, besides being the
greatest epigraphist in Europe, was the representative of a Royal
Personage, and armed with all the permits and safe-conducts and special
privileges useful in a land of cholera, quarantine, and backsheesh. Our
eight horses were innocent of grooming, and their equipment was fastened
together mainly with tin tacks, pieces of rope, and bits of string; but
it would have been difficult to find in England any animal to whom you
could have proposed, still less with whom you could have carried
through, one tithe of what our ragged regiment accomplished. Our two
grooms, _mukaris_, appealed to certain senses as vaguely horsey, though
they suggested nothing more distinguished than stable-helps; but their
management of eight animals, under conditions which seemed especially
designed for their destruction, when there was not a blade of grass,
perhaps for a whole day not a drop of water; when they were ridden for
ten, twelve, or even fourteen hours at a stretch with merely an hour's
rest—without forage—at noon, would have done credit to any groom at
Badminton or Berkeley. As we proposed to ourselves both pleasure and
profit we took no servants—still less a dragoman. Our portable food had
been very carefully selected, and was the best obtainable. Bread, eggs,
chickens, grapes, and lemons we could count upon getting as we went
along.

Each member of the party had clothing and a blanket in a pair of
saddle-bags—mostly of goats' hair or camels' hair, gaily decorated with
coloured tassels—and these, with an extra pair for the baskets of food,
spirit-lamps, plates, knives, and tin cups, were distributed among the
three baggage animals, who also carried, in turn, the two mukaris,
perched on the top of the pile, but capable of climbing up and down with
incredibly rapid agility.

At length the cavalcade was ready, and we turned our faces towards
Jericho. First came the Professor, on a tall, white Circassian horse,
with a tail which almost swept the ground, and was dyed with henna for
protection from the Evil One, who was further defied, by each of us, by
means of a large blue bead hanging round the neck of every horse on a
coloured worsted rope. The Professor himself exhibited five foot of
humanity, mostly brains; a personality which consisted, to the eye, of a
large scarlet and gold silk _keffeeye_ (head covering) with a goats'
hair _akal_ (rope to keep it in place) and an elaborate silk fringe,
below which emerged a pair of black leggings, into one of which a whip
was jauntily stuck. He was mounted on a peaked, military saddle, and he
alone of all the party refused to be separated from his saddle-bags,
which contained an assortment of cigars, cigarettes, tobacco, and the
long wooden pipe, for use in the saddle, such as is in favour with the
Bedu.

Next came the Lady, mounted on a long-legged Arab steed, several sizes
too large for her, but selected for her use mainly because he could do
the _rahwân_, the light canter special to the desert horses, and which
reduces fatigue to a minimum. It was discovered, later in the day, that
he was also capable, apparently, of running for the Derby, an incident
which may as well be recorded at once, as it resulted in his banishment
to the second class, and the society of the mukaris.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho still retains the character recorded
some two thousand years ago, but the thieves among whom you inevitably
fall are now licensed by the Government. There is a whole village full
of them, called Abu-dis, and they have the privilege of protecting
travellers from Bethany to Jericho—that is, of enforcing payment for
preventing anyone else from robbing you. It is but some few years ago
that an Englishman, suspected of seeking to dispense with this
advantage, had his donkey shot under him. At Bethany, accordingly, we
were joined by our escort, but, as became our dignity, he was an
officer, picturesquely attired, and mounted, unfortunately, on a
beautiful Arab mare. The misfortune lay in the fact that all our horses,
with one exception, were stallions, most of whom became restless and
uneasy, that of the Professor so unmanageable that our escort was
compelled to leave us, and to take to bypaths from which he could, more
or less, keep us in sight. Nevertheless, even the temporary
companionship had somewhat excited the entire cavalcade. We were all in
good spirits, and it must be confessed that there was a certain amount
of what may be called "fooling"—of what we would not for worlds
describe as "showing off," but, rather, as trying the paces of our
steeds—an amusement which the Professor saw reason, later, to forbid
entirely.

The road to Jericho is a descent of over three thousand feet, but at a
point nearly half way, a long and steep climb brings you from the
transverse valley Sa'b-el-Meshak to the Khan of the Good Samaritan. At
this point it occurred to the Lady's horse to have a private exhibition
on his own account, and to set off at a truly breakneck gallop, with
which no other animal in the party could possibly compete, even had it
been wise to follow, except at a considerable distance. Her strength was
quite inadequate to check him, but in the length and steepness of the
hill lay promise of safety, and it was with infinite relief that he was
seen to pull up at last. He had no vice, but the occasion was not one
for a steeplechase, and it was decided that, on the morrow, there should
be a "general post" of horses, the mukari being made responsible for his
Derby winner, and the Professor arranging, by exchange with one of the
Sportsmen, to ride an animal which would admit of conversation with the
officer, for such attainments as our leader's have not been achieved by
sitting in a library, or by confinement to the professorial chair of his
university, but rather by personal intercourse with the Arabs in the
various dialects of their own clans, by life in the desert, and
association with wandering tribes in the unexplored districts of the
Peræa Haurân and of Central Arabia.

The Sportsmen carried guns, the Doctor a notebook—though he was more
than suspected of yearning for a rifle,—the revolver which he carried at
his belt being better adapted for the murder of man than of beast—not
that the murder of man, to judge from the experiences of earlier
travellers, was a wholly improbable contingency. Our road led us along
almost the entire length of the north and east wall of Jerusalem; we
then crossed the bridge over the Kedron valley—the brook, if any exist,
is now far below the surface; we passed the Garden of Gethsemane,
skirted the southern slope of the Mount of Olives, hastened past the
filthy hovels of the little village of Bethany, crowned by the so-called
Castle of Lazarus, probably the remains of a pre-crusading Benedictine
convent, and finally, about seven o'clock, pulled up at what is known as
the Inn of the Apostles' Fountain, just such a building as a child might
draw upon a slate. As this is the only well between Bethany and Jericho
it may be safely assumed that the apostles, coming up to Jerusalem,
would drink here, though it is to be hoped that it was less contaminated
than at present; for even the careless natives strain the water through
a sieve before allowing their animals to drink, though, nevertheless,
they still acquire leeches, as the bleeding mouths of the camels and
donkeys one meets along the road frequently betray. The spot has been
marked by a succession of buildings; a little white dome over the well,
and some hewn stones and the ruins of an aqueduct in the hill across the
road, being all that now remains of its old dignity.

Passing the Khan of the Good Samaritan—a modern inn and curiosity shop,
at which you can, at your leisure, renew "a certain man's"
experiences—we paused at the top of the last hill before descending
towards the Jordan valley. Here the entire neighbourhood was once
commanded by a strong mediæval castle, intended, like many all over the
country, for the defence of the district. The tribal marks of the Bedu
to be found on its walls are of extreme interest. The hill upon which it
stands is known as Tel'at ed-Dam, the hill of blood, probably from the
red colour of the rock, though some have sought to identify it, by
reason of the sound of the name, with the Adummim of Joshua xv. 7.

The view from this point is, in certain details, absolutely unique. You
look down at the lowest spot upon the earth's surface—the hollow of the
Dead Sea, blue as the sky in the morning sunshine, flecked with
cloudlike wavelets, beautiful, gay and smiling, but bitter, treacherous,
and the home only of mystery and death. The water contains about
twenty-five per cent. of solid substances; no organism higher than such
microbes as the bacilli of tetanus can live in it; even swimming is
almost impossible; neither shells nor coral testify to any happier past.
The water boils at 221 degrees Fahrenheit, but the presence of chloride
of magnesium makes it incredibly nauseous, while the oily quality, which
it derives from chloride of calcium, makes any accidental splash upon
the garments very destructive. We gratefully take in long breaths of air
which, hot and dry as it is, are, we are well aware, more fresh and
sweet than any we are likely to obtain during the next twenty-four
hours, for only personal experience of the stifling heat of that
unrivalled hollow can make it possible to realise that six and a half
million tons of water which fall into the Dead Sea—a basin about the
size of the Lake of Geneva, but with no outlet—have to be daily
evaporated. Far away southward is the great salt district, where the
salt deposit, coated with chalky limestone and clay, takes many weird
forms, among which the Arabs point out Bint Shech Luth—the woman of
Shech Lot.

"Of whose wickedness, even to this day, the waste land that smoketh is a
testimony, and plants bearing fruit that never come to ripeness, and a
standing pillar of salt is a monument of an unbelieving soul" (Wisdom
x. 7).

"The waste land that smoketh" is a touch of autopic description which
one remembers when, towards sunset, great wreaths of white mist lie low
in the mountain hollows, as nowhere else in Judæa. Eastward, the horizon
is bounded by the long chain of the mountains of Moab, which, ever since
our arrival in the country, have seemed a sort of mysterious dreamland,
a limit of knowledge, the gate of fairyland, the nightly stage of the
great pageant gilded and painted by the sunset. How often have we
longed, like the youngest brother of the fairy tale, to ride across the
wide plain, and to wander forth for a year and a day into that dim
Unknown! We could hardly realise that at last the time had come and we
were stepping eastward.

Below us, in the great plain, a meandering green track shows where the
banks of the Jordan are offering shade and refreshment. In the nearer
foreground the scanty hovels and many hotels of modern Jericho lie,
embowered in tropical vegetation, and we remember with an added interest
that, within even the next day or two, we shall pass through districts
of three distinct flora and fauna, and, leaving behind the oaks and
pines, the familiar sparrows and starlings of our Jerusalem environment,
we shall rest to-night among palms and bananas, we shall hear the cry of
the jackal, and smell the tracks of the hyæna, and again, in a couple of
days, find ourselves in desert surroundings, the nursery of the camel
and home of the gazelle, with the scanty herbage and stalkless flora of
an Alpine world.

Looking down upon the Jericho plain we note various points of interest.
We distinguish the sites of three Jerichos.

First we notice, to the south, the kraal-like village of to-day, on the
site of a castle and church of the Crusaders, afterwards a flourishing
Moslem town, plundered by Egyptian soldiers in 1840, and subsequently
destroyed by fire in 1871. It seems unlikely that it will ever recover
its former position; for, apart from apparent absence of all ability for
initiation on the part of the Arabs, the climate seems to have a
degenerating effect upon the inhabitants, Even German perseverance,
which has made habitable spots in the low maritime plains of Judæa where
all other colonists had failed, could not suffice to render life here
endurable, and an agricultural settlement organised within the last few
years has literally _died_ out. The Latins—or, as we say in England, the
Roman Catholics—have also failed to establish themselves, and the
Russian and Greek settlements find existence possible only under
conditions of frequent change, and the stimulus of the profits to be
made out of the thousands of Russian pilgrims who come, every year, at
Epiphany, for baptism in the Jordan. Last year, however, the Jordan was
held to have acquired so large a proportion of cholera bacilli on its
way from Tiberias, where there was a great outbreak of disease, that
approach was justly forbidden by the authorities. To the west lie the
remains of the Jericho of Bible history, of which, from earliest
childhood, most of us have had a mental picture—the great town enclosed
by walls enwreathed with vegetation, "that ancient city of palm-trees,"
few of which still remain, though they were abundant as late as the
seventh century; and in Jewish amulets, and marriage or divorce
documents, which are commonly decorated with allegorical pictures,
Jericho is still represented by a group of palms. South of the
Israelitish town, and west of modern Jericho, are the remains of the
Roman Jericho, which, it is interesting to remember, was presented by
Anthony to Cleopatra, who, characteristically, promptly sold it to Herod
for a winter home. He made of it a beautiful city, adorned with palms
and gardens, and scented with the balsams for which it was long famous
as an article of commerce, but which are no longer to be found in Syria,
and where, in the time of Christ, the roadsides were shaded with
sycamores—not the _pseudo-platanus_ with which we are familiar, and
which is not a syc_o_more at all, but the _ficus sycomorus_, the
mulberry fig, which, often attaining the proportions of a handsome
forest tree, still yields its wholesome and refreshing fruit among the
humbler surroundings of to-day. The remains of a pool, five hundred and
sixty-four feet long, part of an immense system of conduits still
visible, which was the immediate cause of the fertility and beauty of
the Roman Jericho, is said to indicate the whereabouts of Herod's palace.

The Jericho of crusading times was, probably, supplied with water from
what is now locally known as the Ain es-Sultan (the Sultan's Spring),
although its more suggestive name of Elijah's Fountain is still in use
among the Christian population. Pilgrims of the fourth and fifth
centuries record the tradition that it was here that the prophet healed
the bitter water with salt. Salt is still thrown into a pool or cistern
which, toward the end of the dry season, is found to be impregnated with
noxious matter, animal or vegetable. As, before the time of the Roman
water system, there was no other means of supply it is almost certain
that the ancient town must have stood near this, the only natural
spring, and the site of the house of Rahab, still shown, may quite well
have been in the neighbourhood indicated.

Rising almost perpendicularly a short distance beyond the Fountain of
Elijah, is the Quarantana Mountain, first so called by the Crusaders, in
memory of the forty days of the Temptation, although it seems to have
been held sacred from a much earlier period, as there are remains of
many hermitages, one of which is said to have been occupied by S.
Chariton about 400 A.D.

It is a panorama wonderful not only in extent but in the amount of
detail, which, in the cloudless air of the East, we are enabled to
distinguish, and we would willingly pause longer, but the sun is high in
the heavens, we have been six hours in the saddle, and, leaving our
horses to follow, we find a pleasant relief from the glare in descending
an almost perpendicular path into the Wady Kelt, the deep gorge of the
brook Cherith, where a monastery marks the site of the alleged
hiding-place of the prophet Elijah. It is perched on a narrow shelf,
high up on the perpendicular rock wall of the ravine, and can only have
acquired its present resemblance to domestic architecture by slow and
painful labour. The lower storey, of rough massive stones, apparently
designed for a fortress, is all that remains of an ancient monastery,
founded in 535, possibly upon the site of an earlier habitation of the
Essenes, an esoteric sect of Jews, whose life somewhat resembled that of
the religious Orders among Christians. The cave, high up in the face of
the rock, alleged to have been occupied by Elijah, is now an oratory for
the Greek monks, who, in 1880, returned to an old foundation of Koziba,
and built an upper storey, with projecting balconies, from which one has
a wonderful view of the gorge below.

We left our horses upon a little bridge, which spans the bed of the
brook—where they found welcome shelter, after their giddy descent, under
a vine-covered pergola—and then, following a zigzag path, we made our
way within the doors of one of the many hospitable monasteries which,
all over the Holy Land, are ready to offer at least shade and water, the
two great boons of a hot country, to the weary and thirsty traveller. No
question was made as to creed, even as to that of our officer, a Moslem,
and we were allowed to spread the meal we had with us, with kindly
additions of water for drink and ablution, coffee, liqueur, and fresh
green lemons.

Ignoring all question as to whether the prophet were fed by Arabs or by
orabs (ravens) it is at least a pleasing sight to watch the relations of
the wild birds of the gorge with his modern representatives. The old
superior of the convent, silent, calm, with an expression of infinite
resignation to the poverty, in every sense, of his ascetic life, seemed
to recover some faint and passing interest in the beautiful world about
him as, bidding us be silent within the window, he stepped out on to the
balcony, and produced from his pocket some dried figs. Scarcely raising
his voice, he called gently, _Idoo sudar! Idoo sudar!_—or such his cry
sounded—Russian, as we understood, for "Come along, sir!" The blue air
was flecked with gold, a morsel of the fruit was seized as it was thrown
into the air, there was another flash of golden wings, and on the head,
shoulders, and the extended arms of the old man there perched the
exquisite blackbirds of the district—the "Tristram's grakle" of the Dead
Sea. The sheen of the deep purple wing, with its orange lining, was
wonderfully rich, and the creatures themselves were, in every movement,
graceful as swallows. The dainties finished, there was an instant
flutter, and not a sign remained in all the clear, blue heaven of our
visitors of a moment ago; only a shimmer of silver on the opposite cliff
showed where a cloud of rock pigeons had descended to inquire into the
cause of excitement among their neighbours.

After a couple of hours' rest we went on our way, following the narrow
path which crept along the precipice, and looking with equal wonderment
at the rocky hermitages above our heads and at those beneath our feet;
some which seemed to be accessible only to birds, while others were so
deep down in the narrow gorge that the necessaries of life have to be
lowered to them from a roughly-formed crane upon a narrow shelf of level
ground above.

It was interesting to notice that, even among men of similar religious
impulses, and identical occupations and opportunities, individual
character nevertheless finds occasion for expression. While some dwelt
in holes in the rock, accessible only by a ladder, sometimes of rope,
and in one case, by a voluntary asceticism, only by a pole, others
showed a tendency to make the best of the situation—two or three had
constructed gardens, verandahs, or porticos; one dwelling at least would
have been described by an auctioneer as a _cottage orné_, and some had
even shown an æsthetic realisation of what was befitting the situation,
and had sought after effects of colour and form as well as of
convenience. Not a human being was to be seen, but we wondered how many
pairs of eyes were watching our movements; whether it were possible that
the sound of our cheery voices, and the sight of our enjoyment, may not
have touched some heart to sense of loss, have sounded some chord of
regret, or even of remorse, have recalled memories of other days, when
friendship and anticipation and sympathy and glad companionship were
theirs, and life was other than the awaiting of death, and the setting
sun brought a sense of something added to the days that were gone as
well as of something subtracted from such as might—in God's
providence—remain.

Our horses followed slowly down the glen, and the afterglow was
beautifying even the desolate village of Jericho as we finally remounted
and rode in among the groves of orange and banana.



CHAPTER II

STEPPING EASTWARD

 "The dewy ground was dark and cold;
 Behind all gloomy to behold;
 And stepping _eastward_ seemed to be
 A kind of heavenly destiny."

 W. WORDSWORTH


The Jericho hotels were closed for the season, but with the connivance
of the negro caretaker and of an Arab in charge of the adjoining
orange-gardens we obtained entrance at one, and managed to provide
ourselves with firing and an excellent supper, and, subsequently, with
beds. The Lady, who alone of the party carried a watch, heard the negro
awakening the Professor next morning with the information that it was
three o'clock, and added greatly to her popularity by being in a
position to call out an assurance that it was only one, and that two
hours' further repose was permissible. The building, it should be
mentioned, being constructed mainly of wood and of mud bricks was well
adapted for distant conversation.

Three o'clock, however, duly arrived, all too soon, and by four o'clock
we had breakfasted and were on our way across the sandy plain which
stretches for about two hours between Jericho and the Jordan. A few
faint streaks in the east promised the coming day, but it was still so
dark that our horses required all our attention, as the plain is full of
holes; twice over a silver gleam ahead warned us of fords to be crossed,
and from time to time dark masses rose up before us, and those riding in
advance called to the others to avoid the spreading branches of the
jujube-tree, _zizyphus lotus_ and _zizyphus spina Christi_, called by
the Arabs _nebk_ and _sidr_, which are the octopods of vegetable life,
sending out long tentacles armed with fierce thorns, capable of
subtracting your head-gear, entering your saddle, and imprisoning your
horse.

The ride across the plain of Jordan, interesting at any time to persons
of imagination, was unspeakably weird and suggestive in the morning
twilight, but we differed as to whether the world in which we found
ourselves was one in course of construction or of disintegration. Some
of us were of opinion that the giant sand-hills—a labyrinth of marl and
salt deposit, worn by winds and washed by winter torrents, an old sea
bottom—which crumble at a touch, and which resemble castles, churches,
towers, domes, minarets, whole towns of every variety of architecture,
suggested an artist's dream of a world to be; while others maintained
that they were the images, in the mind of a philosopher, dwelling upon
the past. There was no limit to the tricks which fancy might play in
such surroundings, a nearer _fata morgana_; a dream materialised as it
created itself; a poem precipitated as it was sung: castles in Spain in
which each of us saw some reminder of his personal aspirations: the land
of By-and-by; the ruins of Yesterday; the house of Never, according to
our individual temperament and faculty.

Riding was not very rapid during the first hour and more, so that it was
nearly seven o'clock when we reached the Jordan bridge—the Rubicon
between Palestine and Moab, an exceedingly rickety wooden structure, of
which the only effective part is the door at either end, designed for
the enforcement of backsheesh. The river is embowered in trees, a
variety of willow known as the _safsaf_, various acacias, the
_farnesiana_, not yet filling the air with its delicious scent, the
_tortilis_, and _seyal_—with the long spines, which are found even on
many plants innocent as lambs elsewhere, but fully armed in this land of
thorns and thistles—the _zakkum_, resembling a large box-tree, also
provided with strong thorns, the inevitable jujube _zizyphus_, the
crimson-flowered oleander, which is as seldom out of blossom as is the
gorse on our English moors, above all, the Jordan tamarisk, inseparable
in one's memory from this river and its surroundings, green, graceful,
and, in comparison with its many-armed and aggressive neighbours, gentle
and friendly.

We had plenty of leisure to observe these details, for our arrangements
with the guardians of the bridge involved not only inquiry, discussion,
and the gratification of considerable curiosity but also consumption of
coffee and distribution of backsheesh. The scene about us was animated
and full of variety. The bridge may not be crossed before sunrise, and
our arrival was timely, for types of the whole desert population seemed
to have just arrived, and were pausing to reorganise their caravans. A
group of fellahin, the agricultural labourers of the country, were
bargaining with the Bedu, whose lands they are employed to cultivate at
a wage of one-third of the profits, for the Bedu toil not neither do
they spin. They are the sons of the desert, freedom is their birthright,
and the fellah, compared with them, is as the "linnet born within the
cage" to one who has always "known the summer woods." With his scanty
white robe, his black head-cloth or keffeeye, his huge akal of camels'
hair, he is probably not less ragged than the blue-robed fellah, but he
has an air of indescribable dignity. Utterly independent of his
surroundings, he is as unaffected by hunger or the absence of all the
necessaries of life, as a Highland chief, and, like him, is proud not of
the mere outside conditions of life but, literally, of the blood in his
veins. "I suppose you are descended from Abraham?" someone remarked to
an old Bedawin of this district.

"Oh no; Abraham was not at all of good family," he replied.

The Circassians, too, are there, with wide-skirted coats and astrachan
caps; the Turcomans, with flashes of scarlet and yellow where Arabs
would be wearing white or blue—to say nothing of certain Government
officials, savouring of town life, in tarbush and European boots.

Various animals of the desert are there: camels that are graceful and
asses that are intelligent; horses with the manes and tails which Nature
intended for them; stallions of the fellahin and mares of the Bedu; oxen
and goats and sheep and, as link with the wilder creatures, the pariah
dog and the feral cat. There is a whole armoury of weapons, mostly of
the kind adapted for a provincial museum, from a matchlock to a modern
breech-loader, from a two-edged dagger to a cavalry sabre, from a
horn-handled kitchen knife to the dainty instrument with which, with
some futility, one of the party is manicuring his nails.

We begin to realise that we have said goodbye not only to roads, and
sheets and tablecloths, but almost to humanity, for it seems as if the
entire population were leaving the country towards which our faces are
set. There is shouting in half-a-dozen languages—our own little party
habitually provides five—there is the utter disorder combined with the
perfect courtesy, which contrasts so strongly with the general order and
personal indifference, of what we of the West suppose to be a higher
civilisation.

The Lady showed her sense of the new order of things by betaking herself
to a second stirrup; for, when you have to hang on to precipices by your
eyelids, climb pathless mountains in the dark, descend over solid rock,
slippery and defenceless, or over shale which disappears beneath your
horse's feet; when you may expect to be ten, twelve, or even fourteen
hours a day in the saddle—and such a saddle as one is likely to obtain
in the East—a Hyde Park seat does not afford all the security and
convenience which anxious friends can desire. There was not enough
leather in our outfit to go round, and as that second stirrup hung on by
a piece of string it afforded an excellent measure of temperature,
distance, and individual mood. "When in doubt" upon any question—if
someone were desperate for a halt, when the party became scattered and
consequent waiting provided a few odd minutes of spare time, when
conversation failed or anyone were aching for occupation, if any member
of the party had a sudden access of politeness and wished to exhibit
interest or pay a little attention to the suddenly-remembered female
sex—there was always that second stirrup to fall back upon. In the
morning the string had lengthened with the night-dews, but as the day
went on and each cavalier had added an attentive knot, the rider would
allege that she had become as lopsided as a London milkwoman. By-and-by
the knots tautened, the perpetual pull of a thousand feet of ascent or
descent, as the case might be, strained the string to its utmost, and
the stirrup became inaccessible; after dusk she was suspected of
dispensing with it altogether. The whole position was an excellent
illustration of the misfit of the privileges claimed as "women's
rights!" Nevertheless, it said something for the worth of the
compromise, that she never once dismounted on account of the nature of
the ground, that she brought home her animal with sound knees, that both
horse and rider came back as fresh as they started, and that the company
were loud in declaring that their patience was unexhausted and that they
were ready, if any shred survived, to begin operations again upon that
string to-morrow.

The Professor and the Lady had both changed horses; he for one which,
however much elated by his position, could yet be induced to behave
discreetly in the neighbourhood of the Bedawi mare; she for one which,
although incapable of the much-vaunted _rahwân_, could nevertheless be
kept within such bounds as befitted ascent of pathless precipices, and
progress over the dry beds of mountain streams. It was probably owing to
the superior lightness of the burden he had to carry that her new steed,
Sadowi, a light-limbed grey, was, like his predecessor, generally ahead
of all the party. The Professor's long-legged mount and the active
wide-flanked slender-headed mare of the officer, were of course the
official leaders of the expedition, and the Lady did her utmost to
sustain a modest retirement into the background. But her task was not
easy, not only because of the personal ambitions of Sadowi, but on
account of certain human vices on the part of the Professor's horse, for
which the usual _cherchez la femme_ was the occasion. The Bedawy beauty,
with whom he carried on an active flirtation, was, on Oriental
principles, _haram_ (forbidden) to anyone else, and he refused to
tolerate the neighbourhood of any other horse, looking round perpetually
with an evil expression of suspicion and hatred, worthy only of his
human superiors. When Sadowi passed him he turned aside to bite him in
the act; when the Lady succeeded in keeping in the rear he kicked out at
irregular intervals, on the chance of the proximity of his rival.

The coffee served to us pending our arrangements at the Jordan
bridge was more than welcome, for we had almost forgotten our
half-past-three-o'clock breakfast, and the feast of the eye ceased,
after a time, to suffice the appetite. Some of us had built our hopes on
private stores of chocolate; but chocolate, in the East, even in
October, has its drawback, from a tendency to trickle out of the corners
of one's pockets in tell-tale streams which are not appetising. The
humble peppermint, of the quality stamped "Extra Strong," reminiscent of
the smell of afternoon church in the country, may rather be recommended,
as allaying both hunger and thirst, the latter probably by stimulus of
the salivary gland. Meat lozenges and other devices of the amateur
traveller share the fate of the chocolate; bread becomes rusk and, like
biscuit, is provocative of thirst; raisins, except of the kind which at
home we dedicate to puddings, are, strange to say, unknown; and figs and
dates with no water to wash them in, are—here where we know their
antecedents—for most of us out of the question. One of our mukaris went
about with a necklace of figs threaded on a string, from which he
subtracted as occasion suggested. He had learned the art of the
simplification of life: he drank almost anything that was wet, ate as
has been described, never, so far as was known, undressed, and slept
anywhere except, apparently, in a bed, but for choice on the top of one
of the baggage animals whenever the road in any degree approached the
horizontal. His only luxury was his water-pipe, which he produced at
every moment of leisure, trusting to his companion to keep it alight
without any unnecessary expenditure of _tombak_, the special tobacco
used for the narghile, whenever duty called him away. He was to such a
degree a man of resource and expedient that a story which the Professor
told us, though, as a matter of fact, observed elsewhere, might just as
well have been applied to him. Some mukari in the Professor's employ had
also a water-pipe, but seems to have been fastidious, which Khalil was
not, and on one occasion was seen looking around for something which
might be conveniently inserted into the bottle-shaped vase which holds
the water, and in which a ring of scum had formed upon the glass. His
eye fell upon a neighbouring donkey. He seized the beast's tail, twisted
it into a convenient bottle brush, performed the required ablution, and
returned it to the astonished owner, who, however, with the usual
intelligence of the Palestine ass, made no remark upon the subject.

In Syria the greatest difficulty in locomotion, except backsheesh, for
which it is the pretext, is quarantine. It is easy enough to cross the
Jordan bridge eastward on payment of a toll of three piasters (about
7d.), for man and beast, but it may not be so easy to get back again, as
quarantine may be imposed at any hour, and may last for any length of
time. It was necessary, therefore, to make it clear to the official mind
that, by special favour, we were to be allowed to return without let or
hindrance, whatever might have occurred in the interval. That, in the
name of Allah, would be as Allah and certain exalted persons willed, we
were piously assured, and finally, with much hand-shaking and
invocation—May peace go with you! May your path be broad! May your day
be blessed!—the gates were opened, and in a few minutes we were east of
the River Jordan, which in the rainy season is at least one hundred feet
wide, but was now only one-third of that distance.

A plain some four or five hours broad—for here all measurement is by
time, at the rate of three or four miles an hour, according to the
nature of the country—lay between us and the foot of the hills, although
during all the months we had looked longingly at them from the hills of
Judæa they had seemed to rise almost perpendicularly from the banks of
the Jordan and of the Dead Sea.

Our destination before nightfall was Madaba, which lies 2940 feet above
sea level. Starting from the valley of the Dead Sea, 1292 feet below the
Mediterranean, and with the wide plain of the Jordan valley to cross
before the ascent could begin, it was evident we must reserve our force
for the precipitous climb of over 4000 feet which awaited us, and we
accordingly kept our horses in check, although the sandy plain offered
temptation for a canter. We had abundance of interest. The Sportsmen
hardly expected to meet with the lions which formerly infested the
thickets of the Jordan, but traces of wild boar might be looked for,
also hyænas, jackals, and foxes (which it is considered legitimate to
_shoot_) both the desert fox, _canis niloticus_, and the _canis
variegatus_, smaller than the English fox, with a grey back, black
breast, and a large bushy tail. Cheetahs are occasionally found in the
district we were approaching, the wild cat, _felis caligata_, though
rare, is not unknown, of gazelles we should doubtless see plenty in the
mountains, the ibex, with huge horns, might be expected among the rocks
of the highest points; and the sight of a wolf was not wholly
impossible. However, the immediate expectation, considering the hour,
the place, and the sounds which accompanied our cavalcade—for nothing
short of personal danger can silence an Arab—was rather of bird than of
beast. The first prize in the mind of the Sportsmen was the francolin,
much valued in Syria as a pot-shot. It is something between a pheasant
and a partridge, of dark grey plumage, very strong both to run and fly,
and with a powerful call. Partridges, too, came within their ambitions,
and the partridge of Syria is indeed game worth the powder. Down here,
in the plains, the Hey's partridge, _ammoperdix heyi_, with its delicate
plumage, a soft grey touched with richest blue, is the most common; but
as we advance the larger Greek partridge, the _caccabis saxatilis_,
awaits us, among the rocks and boulders of the mountain passes. Pigeons
and sand-grouse, and the large Indian turtle-dove, _turtur risorius_,
were abundant, but the wedge-tailed raven, _corvus affinis_, with his
whistling cry and jackdaw-like air of gaiety, did not show until we
reached the cliffs of a higher district.

The Lady openly exulted in the lack of accessible game, and grudged even
the occasional shots fired, as disturbing to the smaller creatures in
which she found delight—the grakle, the blackbird with orange under
wings with whom we had already made friends by the brook Cherith, whose
bell-like note sounded from tree to tree, the dainty sun-bird, _cinnyris
oseæ_, whose metallic sheen flashed in and out of the tamarisk-trees,
the delicate—hued Moabite sparrow, the aristocrat of his family, who ran
up reeds and tree trunks like the familiar tits at home. We were too
early to see the flights of birds of passage on their way south to
warmer climes, and which, before and after the winter months, pause in
the thickets of the Jordan basin, and fill the air with music, which
includes the notes of the cuckoo and the nightingale, and recalls,
however irrelevantly, Browning's "Oh, to be in England, now that April's
here!" We had hoped to see the busy little jerboa, a jumping mouse with
long hind legs, like a microscopic kangaroo, but circumstances were, for
the present, against us, chiefly the noise of our cavalcade. He is a
friendly little beast, and easily tamed, and though familiar with him in
confinement we should have liked to see him under happier conditions.

We could not have happened on a more unfortunate season for flowers; the
wonderful flora of the Jordan valley was now at rest, and even the
autumn squills, the delicate muscari, and a few lingering silenae had
been left behind on the higher ground the other side of Jericho. The
only feast of colour was the oleander, familiar to most of us as a
greenhouse shrub, and which here rose with its rich crimson or pure
white flowers, single or double, wherever a little water remained to
keep the earth moist about its roots. We speculated as to what might be
its nearest cousin in our northern latitudes, and the wildest guesses
were made, including the rhododendron, mezereum, daphne, and syringa,
but no one thought of the familiar periwinkle, with its shining trails
and sapphire blooms, in habit and appearance so utterly dissimilar, but
which also belongs to the family of _apocynacea_, or dog-bane. In spite
of its rich colouring and welcome beauty, the oleander bush is highly
poisonous, affecting even the water in which it grows. A story is told
of some French soldiers in the Peninsular War who utilised some of its
twigs to serve as spits for roasting meat, with the result that seven
out of twelve who ate of it shortly died.

We knew better than to expect to find "Jericho roses" in the Jericho
district, although this curious and interesting crucifer _anastatica_
exists in considerable quantities about Masada, towards Engedi, some
twenty hours south. It is an annual, and its curious blossoms are formed
in the spring. We found, however, many specimens of the Dead Sea fruit,
though still green and unripe. It is an asclepiad, _calotropis procera_,
called by the Arabs _oshr_, and is strictly subtropical. The fruit, the
"apple of Sodom" of Josephus, has an inflated, leathery skin, which,
when crushed, leaves in the hand only fibres and bits of rind. The stalk
has a strong milky juice. The name is also given to the _solanum
sanctum_, of the family of the potato, which also resembles an apple,
and is red, with black seeds.

Tristram has happily described the high lands above the Jordan valley as
a "watershed ... the fruitful mother of many infant wadys," a _wady_
being a river bed, and as we made our way along the Wady Heshban, almost
due east, turning southward later in the day, we had glimpses of many of
these glens, and we even forded a couple of streams on their way down to
the Jordan before, towards noon, we found ourselves at the foot of the
mountains. A clear running stream, a little grove of trees, were a
temptation not to be resisted. In a moment we were off our horses,
although, unfortunately, not in time to prevent the baggage animals—left
for an instant by the mukaris, who hastened to receive our weary
steeds—from refreshing themselves in their own fashion, by a roll in the
cool water, oblivious of their encumbrances, or, possibly, possessed of
some vague notion of debarrassing themselves of a superfluity. They had
been travelling between seven and eight hours, and for the last two in
intense heat, not only overhead but, from radiation of the light sandy
soil, underfoot. We could not feel angry with them, and all cheerfully
helped the Lady to hang her entire wardrobe and personal belongings upon
the projecting branches of the jujube-trees, useful for once, as it was
her saddle-bags which had suffered most, although a supply of cake,
gingerbread, and chocolate was reduced to a condition uneatable by any
but the mukaris, who considered the incident an acceptable dispensation
of Providence, or, in their own phrase, _maktoub_—"it is decreed."

A few Bedu under the farther trees were the first human beings we had
met since leaving Jericho except some camel-drivers who, silent and
statuesque, their flocks of many scores of stately camels equally silent
and pictorial, had seemed rather to be a part of the landscape than to
have any human relation with ourselves. One of the group came forward,
and greeted us in such fluent German that we at first took him for some
agricultural speculator buying seed or seeking labourers from among the
fellahin; for the agriculture—that is the organised, not to say
scientific, agriculture of Palestine—is practically in the hands of
Germans and Jews. However, he turned out to be a native, educated at one
of the many German schools of Jerusalem, or elsewhere, at one time an
employé of the Austrian post office, on his way, alone, with a dagger
and a revolver for sole companions, to visit some property at Madaba. On
hearing that this was our destination he begged permission to join our
cavalcade, which the Professor readily granted, as the remaining
journey, among the mountains, was especially solitary. We were very
grateful for coffee and an excellent lunch of sausage, potted meat, and
jam, with white bread, brought from Jerusalem, the last European bread
we were likely to see. We ate our dainties with some sense of guilt, and
a shamefaced sensation of geographical and historical anachronism, as
the Professor, without waiting for our feast to be unpacked and spread,
produced from some secret recess three parcels, one of which was laid
aside for the moment, though with a promissory glance at the Lady, which
she knew denoted instruction in view. The other two proved to be bags,
one containing dates, the other figs, "Dates and figs," we were
informed, "were the natural food of desert wanderers, sufficing to the
body, stimulating to the mind; the wheat, the flesh, above all the
alcohol, of civilisation, were mere irrelevancies." Here some of us
sought to conceal our sandwiches and withdraw our anticipations from
private flasks. "Was it not diet such as this," and he waved a pair of
sensitive hands over his ascetic larder, "which had enabled him to reply
to the inquiry of a Personage as to how many hours a day he could ride
in the desert—'Twenty-four, your Majesty, since the day does not contain
twenty-five, and a man will endure anything for the sake of his
miserable life'? For was it not on a diet of figs and dates that he had
ridden sixty hours without dismounting, resting only for two hours, when
he dropped out of the saddle, just one hour's ride from friends and
safety? Was it your meat-eater, your wine-drinker, who remained sound
and wholesome when necessity obliged him to refrain from ablution for
twenty-one days? 'If a man must be a pig or die of thirst, your
Majesty,' he had submitted to the Personage in question, 'will he not
rather be a pig?' a sentiment with which even royalty heartily
concurred." At this point he carefully counted his date stones, observed
that two more were yet due to his appetite, and, having finished his
frugal luncheon, drew from the saddle-bag deposited beside him his
native pipe, some eighteen inches long, of which the clay head and
wooden stem were carefully and separately wrapped in paper, filled it
with strong tobacco, and lighted it with a mysterious paper match, laid
atop, which smouldered for a perceptible time, and set fire to the
precious fuel. Someone, anxious, perhaps, for the just distribution of
human praise and blame, unwisely murmured that "tobacco was a luxury."
The Professor withdrew his pipe to describe the less costly "smokes" of
desert life. The paths across the desert of Central Arabia have been the
same, probably, since the earliest ages. Man, camel-mounted, with the
same dress, food, purpose, habits, has crossed those golden sands for
æons as, and where, he crosses them now. The living of to-day are
treading the dust of yesterday, and amid that dust we may look not only
for bleached bones and hypophosphates, but even for the decomposed dust
of camel droppings. These, dried and purified, it may be, by centuries,
are the substitute for tobacco of desert life. The Professor would not
acknowledge any ability to give a personal opinion of its quality, but
the Sportsmen, adventurous in this as in all else, were suspected later,
when we reached the camel district, of making a personal experiment in
the interests of science, with what results it was never revealed.

The Professor emptied his pipe, and, calling the attention of the Lady,
opened his third parcel, which proved to contain a large square of white
net. "Such a treasure as this," he admonished her, "you would do well to
acquire. It is a luxury of travel. When I wish for repose I envelop
myself. It averts flies and mosquitoes, and is a hint to my companions
that I do not desire conversation." So saying, he modestly withdrew into
its folds, and only a neat little pair of black boots emerging
from—apparently—a bridal veil, remained to indicate his personality.

The rest of us drew our keffeeyes before our eyes, laid our heads upon
any sloping substance that offered itself, and neither man nor beast
needed further inducement to enter into the land of dreams.

At two o'clock we were again in the saddle, conscious of between 3000
and 4000 feet to climb. Our faces were set eastward, but we knew that we
had to reach a point above and beyond Mount Nebo, which lay immediately
south, "to climb where Moses stood, and view the landscape o'er." Very
soon the shrubs, which had hitherto been at least our occasional
companions, were left behind, and, perpetually climbing, we began to
realise that we had entered a new world. The limestone, dolomite, and
gravel limestone of Judæa had largely given place to a formation
different alike in colour and outline—mainly red sand-stone, often of
very fantastic features, and a certain amount of basalt—later, as we
came still farther south, masses of green-stone and boulders of
pudding-stone. The green-stone is embedded in and streaked with a deep
olive grey, but in places is as green as malachite. Tristram points out
that a dip in the strata brings the limestone again in places to the
surface, which probably accounts for the varied colouring of the
cliffs—black, red, and white—which, in the clear, brilliant sunshine, is
dazzling in its effect. The great tableland of Moab lies about 4000 feet
above the Dead Sea valley, and slopes gently eastward for some
twenty-five miles, beyond which rises another range of hills
(limestone), the watershed of Moab, and the frontier of Arabia, whose
blue distances we afterwards came to feel as a new limitation, which we
longed to cross, as formerly we had longed to cross the hills of Moab.

For miles we saw no sign of human life, no cultivation, no domestic
animal, only wide stretches of bare rock and a scant vegetation, which
seemed, although so burnt as to be difficult to distinguish, mainly
sandwort and soapwort. Now and then a flash of shadow showed that a
lizard had darted away, but even small birds were rare. When the wide
zigzag, which always seemed to turn horizontally just as we had begun to
make advance, allowed us, from time to time, to cast glimpses westward
at the mountains of Judæa, we were much astonished at their height and
grandeur. A prophet has no honour in his own country, and we had no
conception that the familiar range would have so much dignity from afar.
Finally, we reached a tableland, a wide terrace, before arriving at the
foot of the farther range of mountains, which we must still pass.

We halted beneath a solitary tree, and were thankful for the contents of
our water-bottles. Glass bottles cased with straw and packed in
saddle-bags were almost hot enough to make tea from, whereas the German
military flasks of the Sportsmen, with felt coverings damped before
starting, and hooked to the saddle, provided a deliciously cool drink.
Mount Nebo, which had all day dominated the landscape southwards to our
right, had much dwindled in importance, and indeed the end of our
journey would bring us to an elevation 600 feet its superior; and there
are indeed many points from which Moses might have had a much finer
panorama of the promised land than that conventionally pointed out.

Very soon we begin to climb the farther and final range, and to enter
into a district in which the human interest again awoke, not the less
strongly that it was connected with a past which, in England, we should
consider remote, but which we describe here as "merely Roman"—that is to
say, not quite two thousand years ago. The Roman road, which we followed
for some distance, is in much better condition than, for example, the
road between Jerusalem and Jaffa, or Jerusalem and Bethlehem, in spite
of the heavy road tax which, theoretically, keeps them in order, and the
milestones, though prostrate, are still of imperial dignity—massive
columns some six or eight feet in height.

Other columns and great hewn stones are scattered here and there by the
roadside, telling of a grandeur that is past, of a civilisation with
which we have nothing to compare. Another chapter in human history had
been recently suggested by a great dolmen, worthy of Stonehenge; some of
us longed to turn aside to examine it more closely, as it was the first
we had seen in this country, although they are very abundant east of
Jordan, especially in the district lying between Heshbon and the hot
springs of Callirhoe.

An almost perpendicular climb, which the heavier among the party thought
it only merciful to accomplish on foot, brought us to the summit of the
farther range, the Tell el Matâba, marked by an extensive stone circle,
from whence we practically looked down on Mount Nebo, and soon found
ourselves in entirely changed surroundings. Here and there signs of
cultivation, a couple of fellahin carrying a plough, a donkey bearing a
sack of grain and driven by women, all spoke of the neighbourhood of
human habitation. A great plateau gently sloping upward to the east, the
fertile Ard 'Abdallah, lay open before us, and we knew that beyond the
gentle slopes lay the city of Madaba, of which, at present, there was no
indication, except that of the industry of its inhabitants—or at least
the industry which its neighbourhood made possible. On a slight eminence
stood the tomb of 'Abdallah, of whom we could learn only that he was a
great shech, as was testified by the symbols displayed upon his
tombstone: a mortar for preparing, an iron spoon for roasting, a pot for
boiling, and a cup for drinking, the coffee, which was the symbol of his
unlimited hospitality.

Thoughts crowded into our minds with rapid confusion. We had seen too
much; disentanglement was difficult. The stone circle, the dolmen burial
monument of some primeval race, may have been looked upon by Moses in
those sad, closing hours of a disappointed life—by Balaam and Balak
wandering from point to point, from one high place of Baal to another,
among these hills, seeking for some spot whence the prophet might feel
himself inspired to curse the tents of Israel, who had made such havoc
up yonder in Heshbon, and along the very wady we had crossed. We
remembered how the cities of Moab were described by Ezekiel as "the
glory of the country," and yet how her inhabitants were warned by
Jeremiah "to flee and get away, for the cities thereof shall be
desolate." We saw, in fancy, the Roman soldiers of the tenth legion, the
military colonies, the Græco-Roman culture, the Christian, the Persian
influence; finally, in strange rivalry with powers so strong, so highly
developed, the Arab, who for thirteen hundred years has lived among the
ruins of the past, not, on the whole, actively destructive but living
only for each day's need; initiating nothing, saving nothing from decay,
not even seeking to preserve a tree or repair a cistern, and whose
finest monument, among all these ruins of the past, is that of a shech
who dispensed much coffee! He has held the country longer than anyone
else, as the eagle his eyrie or the wolf his lair, and as we advanced
each day farther and farther into the desolation of the present, more
and more closely in touch with the traces of the grandeur of the past,
we felt that here, at least, was a race perfectly adapted to the
environment it had, in great degree, created for itself.

Our tired horses, conscious of twelve hours of work already past, were
thankful for level ground, and took fresh heart as we pursued a fairly
good path, between wide expanses of fields, in which the harvest was not
yet entirely over; that wonderful Syrian harvest, which seems to be
going on continuously, here or there, during quite half the year, from
May to October. We, also weary, let the reins fall loose and wandered on
thus meditating, the Professor and our officer to the front, the mukaris
bringing up the rear. Suddenly we were conscious of a slight shock to
our body corporate, and, looking up, perceived that the Professor and
the officer were in colloquy with a body of some six or eight
wild-looking Arabs, their swarthy countenances looking the darker and
more savage for their black keffeeyes and akals.

At this moment our Sportsmen rode up, one of whom spoke Arabic like a
native, and the Professor, waving a dignified negative, rode ahead. We
joined him, and turning our horses looked back at the scene in progress.
The leader of the attacking party was in hot argument with the
Sportsman, who responded to his shouts and gestures with the cool
imperturbability which, of all European characteristics, is most
surprising to the Arab, while our mukaris, hastily collecting the
baggage animals, and casting an anxious glance ahead at the horses we
were riding, hovered timorously in the rear. As a mere accidental
coincidence we observed that another of the band had fallen upon an
unlucky fellah, who rode up at the moment, knocked him off his donkey,
and was beating him—casually as it appeared—but probably _pour
encourager les autres_—namely, our mukaris. They demanded, as we
afterwards learnt, a tax upon every horse in our company before
permitting us to enter the town of Madaba, which they represented. "If
you belong to Madaba then accompany us to Madaba, where we will pay any
tax which appears to be just," replied our Sportsman calmly, "but it
seems to me you are highwaymen," and so saying he, with our other
Sportsman, our second mukari with two baggage animals, and our
German-speaking Arab companion, rode on, and joined our distant group,
Khalil, our chief mukari, who was held responsible for all the horses,
being retained as hostage. With the usual cowardice of an Arab, in spite
of the Sportsman's assurances that he would "see him through," he very
foolishly produced his purse, satisfied their demands, and rode on
triumphant. The chatter that ensued among our three Arab companions—for
nothing in the world excites an Arab like a question of money—can only
be compared to a rookery at sunset. One had a rare opportunity of
appreciating the alleged variety of the Arabic vocabulary; its
adaptation to utterances of anger, vituperation, and regret. "They
claimed, they got, fifty-nine piasters" was the burden of the song, and
we had it in solo, antiphon, chorus, refrain, with a hundred variations,
all the rest of the way to Madaba. On our arrival we found that our
brigands belonged to Es-Salt, a town eight hours N.E. of Jericho (Madaba
being a good ten hours S.E.), and entirely unconnected with this
district; that the tax which they claimed was a war tax, just now
enforced by the Government upon every man in his own town, so that our
poor Khalil would have to pay it over again on his return to Jerusalem.
With this fact, however, we did not at present acquaint him.



CHAPTER III

MADABA

 "Who fished the murex up?
 What porridge had John Keats?"

 R. BROWNING


After fourteen hours in the saddle we were thankful to dismount at the
friendly door of the presbytery at Madaba, where, by kind permission of
the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, we were admitted to enjoy the
hospitality of the parish priest, a Piedmontese, and his assistant, an
Arab, both speaking excellent French, as well as Italian, the official
language of the patriarchal clergy.

We found their reception room crowded with a group of some dozen
villagers, prominent among whom was a dignified-looking shech, who at
once claimed acquaintance with the Professor, and proved to have been
his guide in this district upon a former occasion. He was engaged in a
discussion with the priests, which we had evidently interrupted, and the
moment opportunity permitted he returned to his point. There was nothing
discourteous in his persistence, he was obviously attempting to make a
bargain, and the price offered had already, we were told, reached 200
francs. The priest met all his advances with a decided negative, which
grew more and more imperative as time went on, but time is of no value
to an Arab, and we could not but be reminded of the parable of the
importunate widow. After a time, at the express desire of our hosts,
they all withdrew into an outer room while we enjoyed our much-needed
refreshment, but when we afterwards went out to look about us they
returned to the charge, and we even found them still at it next morning.
The very delicate point at issue was afterwards explained to us. The
man, a member of the Eastern branch of the Church, desired to marry his
niece, and having failed—after perhaps equal pertinacity in enforcing
his point—in obtaining permission from his own priest had come to see
whether it might be worth his while to change his religious views, in
hope of receiving the sanction of the Latins. Apparently he thought the
real question at issue was "How much?"—and from time to time, after
consultation with his companions, he would raise his bid by a few
piasters. Again and again the priests roundly assured him it was of no
avail; he was not to be convinced, and when we finally rode away he was
sitting on a stone by the door of the presbytery. It would have been
interesting to know what were the special attractions of the lady for
whom he was willing to venture so much.

Madaba may best be described as a village of what, in England, we should
call "squatters." They are Christian exiles from the Moslem town of
Kerak, who, about 1880, took possession of a city which had been in
ruins some thirteen hundred years, having been devastated, according to
a learned monograph upon the subject by the Dominican Père Séjourné,
most probably by Chosroes, in his destructive march to or from the
north. The present population, of some 900, of whom about two-thirds are
Greeks, the rest Latins, occupies a small hill about 100 feet in height,
of which almost a third is debris. The new residents, in digging for
foundations, have brought to light a great deal that is of extreme
interest and, as naturally follows, have destroyed still more. Dr Bliss,
referring to the article of Père Séjourné, and describing the town in
1895, observes that certain ruins have disappeared in the meantime, and
we, in turn, failed to find others which appear in the sketches of
Professor Brünnow, also of 1895.

Madaba is undoubtedly a place very precious to the archæologist; to the
merely æsthetic it is disappointing and sad. The ruin, the débris, the
desecration, the filth of the last quarter of a century force themselves
upon our consciousness to a degree difficult to overcome, and it
requires an effort, of which we were little conscious elsewhere, to
realise its former dignity. When Joshua was old and well stricken in
years it must have been a little discouraging to him to learn that,
besides other large tracts of country in this district, "all the plain
of Madaba unto Dibân" remained to be possessed. Mesha, King of Dibân,
over six hours' ride to the south, mentions upon the famous Moabite
stone (897 B.C.) that it belonged to the Israelites in his period, the
reign of Omri, but it afterwards passed into the possession of the
Moabites, and, still later, into that of the Nabateans, who came hither
from the south of Arabia. Madaba withstood Hyrcanus during a siege of
six months about a century before Christ, and, during the Christian era,
was the seat of a bishopric. Early in the seventh century, like many
places on this side of Jordan, it disappears from history.

Madaba must have been a town of some importance, although the space
enclosed within its walls was barely a quarter of a mile square. Père
Séjourné, the Dominican archæologist, saw gates on the north and east
which have disappeared, but indications remain of the existence of four.
The population was well provided for as to water, for, in addition to
two smaller reservoirs, a pool at the S.W. angle measures 108 yards
long, by 103 yards wide, and 13 feet deep. It is now used as a field for
the cultivation of tobacco, for as long as it served its original
purpose it was the cause of constant feuds with the Bedu. There was a
street of columns 150 yards in length. Bliss and Baedeker mention five
churches, the Père Curé told us he had evidence of the existence of
eight, for which almost disproportionate number the bishopric may
account. The piety of to-day takes another form. Schumacher, in a
valuable monograph (1895), relates that the former curé, Pater Biever,
describing his ten years' experience among the people, related that the
hardest things to teach them had been not to bring their sabres and
other weapons into church and not to greet him, if they chanced to
arrive while service was proceeding, with the usual respectful but
loud-voiced, _Marhabā jā chūre!_—"May thy path be broad, O priest!"

When he enunciated the teaching, "Love your enemies, do good to those
that hate you," an old shech called out: "Halt, priest! you can preach
that to the old women." In certain respects the people of Madaba stand
higher than the Christians west of the Jordan, and offences against
morality are very rare—among the genuine Bedu they are almost unknown.
Monogamy is the rule in Madaba, though in Kerak, whence the people come,
polygamy is found even among Christians, and among others is quite usual.

In matters of peace and warfare they observe the rules of the Bedu, and
Schumacher quotes interesting examples of what he truly calls the sound
views of honour and manliness, to be noticed even among the wild customs
of these children of nature.

Their absolute disregard of the beautiful, their indifference to the
abominations of their surroundings, is almost incredible. Chickens and
goats defile the most exquisite mosaics; a Corinthian capital, picked up
by chance, is inserted between an unhewn stone and a slab of marble; a
squalid hut has a carved lintel. Père Séjourné points out that in a
small church, which Bliss describes as the most interesting which he
visited, an inscription reveals the age of the building, and serves, so
to speak, as a _point de repère_ for others. It recites that "the mosaic
work of this sanctuary and of the holy house of the altogether pure
Sovereign Mother of God has been made by the care and the zeal of this
town of Madaba ... in the month of February of the year 674, indication
5"—that is, 362 of our present era. Another church, portions of which
have to be sought for in several different dwellings, has been regarded
as the cathedral; it is 125 feet long, with aisles twice the breadth of
the nave, which is 29 feet, all in Corinthian style.

But the _pièce de résistance_ at Madaba, the goal of the savant's
pilgrimage, is the celebrated mosaic—the Madaba map—which, discovered in
1884, was not known to the public till 1897. We were armed with a letter
from the Greek patriarch desiring that the Professor and his party might
have every assistance in their investigations. We accordingly made our
way to the Greek church at the foot of the rising ground upon which the
town is built. They had not been aware of our coming, and suggested
that, in order that suitable preparations might be made, we should
return next day, which was, unfortunately, impossible. By the time that
a solid mass of dust and dirt had been laboriously removed (for the
means taken for the preservation of the mosaic, render it accessible
only in detached sections, each covered by glass) the twilight was so
far advanced that we saw it very imperfectly, and are glad therefore not
to depend upon our own impressions for a description. It is a map, in
fine mosaic, of Palestine, including a part of Lower Egypt, much broken
and injured at the edges, and, obviously, reduced in extent. It serves,
at present, as part of the flooring of the Greek church, but, on account
of its value, as possibly the oldest map of Palestine in existence, it
is, very properly, covered in with glass, on a principle strongly
resembling a cucumber frame.

The colours, which are various, and arranged with a view to science
rather than to art, are as fresh as the day they were laid, and the
mosaic is a combination of a map, a picture, and a ground plan.

Père Cléopas, a Greek priest, who is spoken of as the discoverer,
although it had been locally known for thirteen years, thus describes
it: "The artist was not content to give simply the names of the towns,
but, moreover, with careful pains, he shows the form, size, and plan of
any town of importance; and further how many doors and gates it has,
whether these lie to east or west, what important buildings it contains,
what is their style, and what is the old name of the town, as well as
that in use; where hills are found and where plains; where rivers and
brooks and forests; where springs and where hot springs; where ponds and
lakes; where boats and ships; where palms and where bananas; all these,
in their natural colours, are exactly indicated upon the map."

It is worth while to give some short account of the Madaba map, not only
because the history is interesting in itself, but because it is
thoroughly typical of much which happens in this country. The facts are
taken from a _Mémoire_ presented by Mons. Clermont-Ganneau to the French
Academy, and subsequently published in the _Recueil d'Archéologie
Orientale_.

The discoverer of the mosaic was a Greek monk, of whom the very name has
been forgotten, and who, in 1884, communicated the fact to the Greek
Patriarch, who took no notice whatever. One feels little regret that
this worthy ecclesiastic was, later, exiled to Constantinople, and
succeeded by the patriarch Gerasimos, who, in 1890, six years after the
original discovery, found the letter, and immediately sent off an
architect with orders that the mosaic should be included in the church
about to be erected at Madaba. We have the testimony of four monks that,
at this time, the mosaic was almost complete, but the intelligent
workman destroyed much of it in order to lay the foundations of the
church, sacristy, and out-buildings; broke up part to insert a pilaster,
and left much of the bordering, with its decorations of biblical
imagery, outside. He then returned, with the assurance that the mosaic
was unimportant.

Another six years elapsed, and Father Cléopas, librarian of the Greek
patriarchate, who chanced to be arranging a visit to Jericho, was
prevailed upon by Monsignor Gerasimos, who had never lost interest in
the reported discovery, to continue his journey as far as Madaba, in
order to report upon it. He returned in January 1897, thirteen years
after the original discovery, bringing with him a sketch of the map, and
some notes. M. Arvanitaki, a professional map-maker, was at once
despatched to make a drawing. He was a Greek, a member of the
Astronomical Society of France, and an accomplished linguist, a matter
of great importance when abbreviations and contractions had to be
correctly rendered. Before his work could be finished the patriarch
died, and the geometer, not being new to the little ways of Jerusalem,
was about to abandon an undertaking which any succeeding patriarch might
possibly repudiate, but was, fortunately, encouraged by the Franciscans,
who undertook to translate the MS. of Père Cléopas into French, and to
publish the work of the artist in twelve sheets of half-a-metre square.
This was successfully accomplished by means of Lumière's orthochromatic
plates, and was forwarded to the Academy of France on the 16th of March.
The story of the misfortunes of the map was, however, not yet complete.
The Greek patriarchate claimed the original drawings, and the negatives
were broken on their way to Paris. M. Clermont-Ganneau, however,
succeeded in reproducing them, and made them the basis of a
communication to the Institute, and so of introducing the valuable
"find" to the archæological world.

Meantime, Père Vincent, of the Dominican Order in Jerusalem, had made
another drawing, which was published in pamphlet form with a monograph
by his learned colleague, Père Lagrange, collaborating with Père Cléopas
himself. A further record was made, also early in March, by Père Germer
Durand, of the Assumptionist Order, who also laid a complete photograph
before the Academy of France, consisting of ten sheets, taken from
above, a light scaffolding having been erected for the purpose, an
experiment pronounced in the _Mémoire_ as having been "carried out in
the most satisfactory manner possible." Within two months, therefore, of
the visit of Père Cléopas, the mosaic, neglected for thirteen years, had
been the subject of three separate monographs. The representative of the
English Palestine Exploration Fund made a visit to Madaba which was
wholly unsuccessful, but the German architect, Paul Palmer, of
Jerusalem, assisted by a couple of artists, succeeded in triumphing over
many difficulties, political as well as mechanical, and has made a
reproduction of the map, of the original size and colouring, which now
hangs, by the desire of the patriarch, in the Greek School at Jerusalem,
where it is accessible to all comers, an object of permanent value to
scholars and archæologists.

The discovery has naturally given rise to a vast amount of discussion,
and has involved much reconsideration of earlier topographical
conclusions. We can never sufficiently regret all that has been so
gratuitously lost, although, in Palestine, one necessarily becomes
somewhat hardened to losses of the kind. Trustworthy witnesses who saw
the map before the mutilation recently inflicted concur in testifying
that it originally recorded the position of Ephesus, Smyrna, and
Constantinople, showing that it must have included Asia Minor and the
Bosphorus.

And so we wrangle and regret; we take long journeys to see this marvel
of the science of at least thirteen hundred years ago; we dispute who
shall be accounted the first to perceive its worth; what nation first
presented the facts to the world; what bearing they have upon the
learning of to-day; and, meantime, the name of the discoverer, though he
may still be living, is never mentioned, and no one thinks of the human
soul that imagined, the human hands that wrought—the nameless Byzantine
priest into whose labours we have entered!

 "Nokes outdares Stokes in azure feats.
 Both gorge. Who fished the murex up?
 What porridge had John Keats?"



CHAPTER IV

MSHATTA

 "Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
 Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
 Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
 A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme."

 KEATS


There was so much of interest at Madaba, that we did not succeed in
accomplishing the early start we had intended, and even after we were in
the saddle, and had picked our way, not without difficulty, among the
scattered stones, the middens, the children and dogs and chickens which
occupy such open spaces as serve for paths, a native, speaking excellent
German, came out of a house to suggest a visit to yet another mosaic
pavement. This, however, we reluctantly declined, for, although we had a
journey of but five hours in view, the sun was already high, and we had
a bare plateau to traverse.

We soon left all traces of town life behind, and in little more than an
hour came upon a scene which was, to many of us, a new delight: that of
many hundreds of wandering camels in their native surroundings—we had
almost said their native element, so different are these creatures from
the suffering, melancholy, over-worked, evil-smelling, grumbling brutes
to which we are accustomed in Jerusalem. A camel to be seen to advantage
requires the primeval spaces for which he was originally designed. He
should stand clear against the horizon, however boundless; the
background of narrow streets, the human brutality and noise, the mud
beneath feet intended for desert sands, are an injustice for which we,
and not they, are to blame. Bewildered, tortured, over-driven, he
acquires that air of abject dejection which he shares with the London
cab-horse, that habit of futile remonstrance which we learn to associate
with him, to the entire exclusion of that dignity—an undoubted part of
the freedom which is his birthright—that grace, which is inseparable
from the surroundings that were his when the original type, never yet
adapted to human environment, was first devised.

Camels of all shades of brown and grey were there; camels that had never
had their coats disfigured by clipping nor galled with burdens; white
camels, almost dazzling against the sapphire sky, the golden plain, the
purple hills; baby camels, playful as kittens but with a puppy-like air
of solemnity, and more graceful than young colts, because better
proportioned as to legs. The Bedu speak of the white camels as "blue,"
possibly for the same reason that an inhabitant of the Hebrides, when on
the sea in stormy weather, will speak of his island by a fictitious name
or, after dark, will whistle to his dogs rather than call them by name,
for fear of attracting the attention of the Evil One. Many superstitions
among Arabs are associated with blue, as again, the Highlander
associating them with green, the colour of the fairies, will avoid
naming the hue of the grass, calling it blue if adjective be necessary.
The Arab puts a blue bead on his horse, a blue necklace on his child;
his wife carries blue beads on her market-basket, and one is often hung
over the door of the house, especially a new house. So Caliban, in the
Oriental story which Shakespeare preserves for us in "The Tempest,"
speaks of his mother Setebos, the witch, as "a blue-eyed hag" (not
"blear-eyed" into which certain commentators have corrected the
original); and in a commentary upon an Arabic poem by Al Chirnik, sister
of Tarafah, belonging to the early part of the seventh century, a
seeress is described as "Hy, the blue-eyed one, from the notorious
people of the time of ignorance"—_i.e._ the period before the revelation
of the Moslem faith.

Here and there the vast plain was dotted with the black temporary
villages of the Bedu, generally arranged in a circle or square, _dooah_,
around a central space upon which all the tents open, although, with
some instinct of sanitation, the drapery was generally raised, both "but
and ben," as they say in Scotland. The population seemed to be largely
abroad, and every half mile or so we came upon a little group, more or
less keeping an eye upon the herds, visible for miles, even to the
farthest horizon, where they made long dados of themselves against the
cloudless sky. Almost due south of us, each on its own hill, overlooking
a Roman road running north and south, are two important ruins—Um Weleed
(mother of children) and Um el Kuseir. They are only about half-an-hour
apart, and we longed to make the short détour necessary to visit them,
but the Professor's face was turned where duty called and we did not
venture to propose the expenditure of time. Tristram describes these
cities, and others lying along the same route, and thinks they may have
been at least Maccabean, for they are obviously much older than the
Saracenic khans and the Roman forts, which are alike numerous in the
district. He says that in all he looked in vain for any traces of
Christian worship but that in each case there were the ruins of a
temple, always outside the city, with the entrance to the east, and,
wherever the architecture could be determined, of Doric origin; and he
speculates as to whether these High Places may have originally served
for Baal-worship. Another point which he notes, and which we, later, had
opportunities of verifying, is the immense number of cisterns and
underground storehouses, still in use by the Bedu for storage of grain
and protection of flocks. It is interesting to recall that one of the
commands given upon the Moabite stone, which was found but a few hours'
journey south west, was "Make for yourselves every man a cistern in his
house." The present names of these ruined towns, Um Weleed, Kirbet
el-Herri, Zebîb, Um er-Resâs, Um el-Kuseir, and others, are all Arabic,
and do not help us in identification, and trace of any other name seldom
remains. They must, nevertheless, have been important; Um Weleed, for
example, measures half-a-mile in length within the walls, and has
suburbs in addition.

Of Ziza, however, where we halted for a short time about four hours
after leaving Madaba, we find a clear record in the Roman _Notitia_,
where the name occurs, unchanged by a single letter, as an important
military station, "_Equites Dalmatici Illyriciani Ziza_". Here we found
traces of what must have been one of the largest towns of Roman Arabia,
the most prominent feature being a great tank of solid masonry, 420 by
330 feet, still larger than that at Madaba, and, although the dry season
was far advanced, and the reservoir is much reduced in available extent
by debris, containing still a good supply of water. Steps, so wide and
shallow as to be accessible even to horses, lead down to the water; many
of the single stones are over six feet in length, and the reservoir was
fed by an ingenious contrivance which, aided by two sets of strong
sluice gates and an embankment of earth and masonry, formerly economised
all the water which, in the heavy winter rains, would come rushing along
the valley and down the hill side, upon which the town was built. In
various parts of the valley there are embankments, to turn the water
from other gorges and depressions into this central reservoir, which is
also provided with dams in the event of flood, floods being frequent and
dangerous in this country, where, in the early rains, the water rushes
in torrents along the surface of the baked and hardened earth. In the
neighbourhood of such provision for a large population one naturally
looks for buildings of importance. Tristram observes that the tank,
though of such infinite consequence as is barely conceivable to those
who do not know the East, is not defended, pointing to a period of
security, when the Dalmatian cavalry swept the surrounding plains and
made their headquarters here and, possibly, at Castal. Against the
horizon, on the crest of the ridge, are two castles, which we were
unable to visit but which were described by Tristram: one a
solidly-built fort, apparently Saracenic, although constructed of older
materials, which, to judge from the sculpture remaining upon them, may
have been the ruins of Byzantine churches, the other, to the east, is,
he tells us, in a much more ruinous condition. The present remains seem
to be Roman, but show traces of use as a mosque, and among the material
are sculptured stones, possibly Byzantine, according to some Persian, as
well as fragments of cufic inscriptions. Eastward, again, is the Roman
town of Ziza, which includes a strange aggregation such as is found in
no country other than Syria. There is a fine Saracenic building, said by
the Arabs to have been perfect until the Egyptian invasion of 1832;
there are cufic inscriptions and sculptured crosses; an olive mill of
basalt; remains of sarcophagi; and a large Christian church, of which
one apse still remains standing. All these ruins suffered considerably
from the wanton destruction wrought by the Egyptian troops, who, it is
said, threw down a very perfect building in the town, and several entire
Christian churches. Tristram was the first European to visit Mshatta and
Castal as well as Ziza; the last, at the suggestion of Zadam, the son of
the great shech of the Beni Sakr, the local tribe of Bedu, who, by the
intervention of Klein, the German missionary famous for the discovery of
the Moabite stone, accompanied Tristram as companion, and protector of
the expedition. The ruins appear to have been previously pointed out to
Captain, now Sir Charles, Warren, the representative of the Palestine
Exploration Fund, who, however, made no investigation, so that it fell
to the share of Tristram to be the discoverer of Mshatta, one of the
most remarkable architectural monuments in the world.

It was with ever-increasing eagerness of expectation that we hastened
on, after asking our way from some railway workmen—Europeans—who were
living in tents among the ruins, and who spoke a polyglot of Arabic,
French, and Italian. Within a few minutes we crossed the line upon which
they were engaged, intended—strange anachronism!—to connect Damascus
with Mecca, an undertaking for which the Turkish Government deserves the
credit of immense perseverance under very difficult conditions. It may
be mentioned, in passing, as also to their credit, that they are now
rapidly carrying out the line from Haifa northwards, undertaken some
years ago by the English, and which—after the whole district had been
surveyed, the line planned by the skill of Dr Schumacher, the
German-American Vice-Consul at Haifa, and the work, in the hands of an
English engineer and English foreman, had made some progress—was
mysteriously abandoned, to the serious loss of many of the employés.

It is of this railway that Professor George Adam Smith prognosticated so
hopefully, as being the most important material innovation from the
West. "... Not only will it open up the most fertile parts of the
country, and bring back European civilisation to where it once was
supreme—on the east of Jordan—but, if ever European arms return to the
country—as in a contest for Egypt or for the Holy Places when may they
not return?—this railway, running from the coast across the central
battlefield of Palestine, will be of immense strategic value" ("Hist.
Geog. of the Holy Land," p. 20).

At the point where we cross the line the rails are not yet in place, but
the iron monster will soon be here—fit symbol of an age which mocks the
time that is, but creates few monuments which shall defy the time that
shall be; which enables the curious to gaze at the wonders of the past,
but leaves him no leisure to initiate what may survive our race, and
speak, as do the ruins of Moab, to an age and a people of a distant
future. We come on the wings of steam, and with all the miracles of
science, but we leave no trace but unsightly heaps and a scar upon the
face of the landscape. We were glad, some of us, when we had reached and
crossed the unshamed anachronism, and, forgetting the noise that would
break the silence of the plain, the smoke that would soil its purity,
the advertisement, the competition, with their attendant vulgarity and
vice, we could throw ourselves again into the arms of Nature, and listen
to the voices of our Mother Earth.

It seemed far more in keeping with our mood of the moment when, an hour
or so later, we crossed the _Haj_ (pilgrim) Road from Damascus to Mecca;
the road, or rather aggregation of paths, some hundreds of parallel
tracks, dispersed over a width of 1000 yards, alternately dividing and
amalgamating, over which, for some twelve hundred years, the followers
of the Prophet have passed to the visible centre and cradle of their
faith. It is possible that the sons of Isaac may have trodden this very
path on their way from the desert to the land of promise, for here there
can be little variation in roadways, as they are determined not by
mountain passes or choice of gradient, but by the presence of water. The
shech of the district is responsible for the safe conduct of the
pilgrimage across his territory, and it is at their own risk that any
wander from the caravan. It is not many years since a body of pilgrims,
tempted by some vision of a nearer route, had to be followed up when
they did not reappear. A few only were saved, but two hundred perished
from thirst, and one shudders to think of the possible animal suffering
involved, although, happily, most would be mounted on the long-enduring
camel. The Professor told us that at times, when his caravan had lost
its way in the desert at night, his mukaris would stoop down and scoop
up a handful of sand some two or three inches deep, which they would
smell for traces of camel droppings, showing, when they were deeper than
a possible surface accident, that the travellers were on the timeworn
track.

Almost involuntarily we drew rein, and paused, with mingled feelings,
before this record of human emotions. Five times a day every good Moslem
must turn toward Mecca, and once in a lifetime, if possible, he must
journey thither in pilgrimage, either personally or by proxy. The road
is strewn with the bones not only of animals but of men, who have fallen
by the way, from thirst or exhaustion, it may be, or from plague and the
cholera, which so constantly dog their footsteps. The Arabs have a story
that a good Derwish in Mecca begged the leader of the pilgrimage to take
the cholera away with him from a place where so many holy men were daily
perishing. "But," said the Haj, "there are many good men in Jerusalem,
whom we can ill spare!" "Well," said the Derwish, "take it, anyway, and
if Allah does not want it in Jerusalem He will send it on elsewhere";
and that, says history, as well as tradition, has happened annually ever
since, for though Jerusalem is left untouched, the dread cholera
accompanies the returning pilgrims almost every season, and is seldom
far away from the track which lay before us.

Although many now avail themselves of the steamers on the Red Sea and
Persian Gulf, thousands assemble every year at Damascus, where the holy
tent of the caravan is kept, and large numbers still come, even from
Circassia, Central Asia, and Northern Africa, in order to make the
orthodox journey in its entirety. Formerly it was reckoned as lasting
twenty-seven days but, owing to various mitigations in the difficulty of
travel, the time tends, every year, to become shorter. Nevertheless, the
Arabs have a saying which expresses a journey of indefinite length (much
as we say "to go to Jericho"): "To go to the gate of God"; (Bab-el
Allah) the gate that is, at the end of the Meidân, the suburb of
Damascus, where the pilgrimage assembles, known as Bawâbet Allâh.

Though, in these days when, even among Moslems, the tendency shows
itself to minimise the duties of life, and many only contribute to the
cost of the general pilgrimage, and compromise with conscience by a mere
payment in money, nevertheless, even yet, custom, superstition,
temporary advantage, hereditary conventionality or, it may be, pious
instinct, religious fervour, cosmic yearning, avail now, as in all ages,
to the direction of human conduct, and the parallel tracks are still
well trodden. To us, who can enter in part only into the spirit of the
East—its absolute faith in predestination, in the predetermination of
salvation or perdition, in the irrelevance between religion and conduct,
in the resignation which seems to us so utterly without hope, in its
limitation of the relations between Man and God, its perpetual
ascription of praise with but little margin for intercession—the whole
position is a great mystery, and in the tramp, tramp of thousands of
feet, which seems to us to echo wearily through vast avenues of time, we
find it difficult to catch any note of love, or hope, or aspiration.
They carry an inevitable burden of human sorrow, which is no fit
offering at such a shrine as theirs; they have hopes and fears and human
longings which they may confide to none but human hearts: God is great;
there is no god but God; all that befalls them is already decreed; and
the pilgrimage is to His glory and in no sense for their own
consolation. Browning's _Epistle of an Arab Physician_ recurred to the
mind of some among us, with the startled utterance of the Syrian
contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth:

 "... think, Abib; dost thou think?"
 So, the All-great were the All-loving too!
 So through the thunder comes a human voice
 Saying: "O heart I made, a _heart_ beats here!"

Thus dreaming, we journeyed on, still over vast spaces with dim
horizons, bounded by low ranges of hills, showing in deep purple against
the cloudless, sapphire sky.

Suddenly all was changed! We were no longer among the unsatisfied
yearnings of pilgrimage but the companions of that youngest brother in
the fairy tales, whose long journeyings had so often entered into our
dream of the distant lands, for were we not drawing up at the gate of
the Enchanted Palace, more beautiful than any dream, more deeply
mysterious than the wonders of the Arabian Nights?

 "Here all things in their place remain,
 As all were ordered, ages since.
 Come, Care and Pleasure, Hope and Pain,
 And bring the fated fairy Prince!"

Truly the place was under a spell—here in this wide wilderness, an
unfinished dream of the sculptor of a giant age, stood the Castle of
Mshatta; far exceeding any description which we had read or heard;
paralysing us with such awe of its beauty and mystery as seldom seizes
one before the work of Man; its immensity, its majesty, the unique
perfection of its workmanship, above all, its silence, its absolute
mystery, seeming in unison with the vast works of Nature all around,
rather than with any conception of a merely human mind.

We were speechless in presence of this monument of a race to which we
could give no name, of a purpose at which we could not even guess, of
aspirations never fulfilled, hopes never realised.

 "Titanic forces taking birth
 In divers seasons, divers climes.
 For we are Ancients of the earth
 And in the morning of the times."

Tristram, after his second visit in the year 1872, returned to England,
declaring that the whole question continued to be an insoluble mystery.
Even the name gave no clue, and such meaning as it may even have had as
_Um shita_, "mother of winter," presumably so called as affording winter
shelter for the flocks, is now subtracted, for although the spelling of
Mashita or Meshita has been employed up to the present, even by the
precise Baedeker in his English edition of 1900, the derivation is now
declared fanciful, and _Mshatta_ the more accurate rendering of the name.

That the problem is a difficult one is the more obvious from the very
fact that it has none of the complications which beset the archæologist
elsewhere. There have been no subtractions, no accretions, no changes.
Hardly a ruin remains in Syria where Moslem zeal has not destroyed its
sculptured imagery. Here all is perfect as when the artist laid down his
chisel. Not a detail is defaced; the few stones which may have been
removed have in no degree marred its completeness; its position has been
its protection; far alike from the ignorant zeal of the fellahin Moslem,
from the misdirected industry of the town Christian, it has inherited
none of the blessings of civilisation. It is still the "unravished bride
of quietness." As Tristram has well said: "Too proud to cultivate,
happily too careless to destroy, the incurious Bedawin has roamed over
its rich pasture lands: never tempted to loosen a stone, for he needs no
building materials, and content if the old cisterns and arches afford a
shelter in winter for his flocks."

In the wonderful façade upwards of fifty animals, exquisitely
sculptured, in every variety of attitude, still quench their thirst in
pairs, bending opposite each other, over a graceful vase; their outline,
their very motion perfectly rendered; lions, lynxes, panthers, gazelle,
buffaloes; here is a man with a dog, there a man carries a basket of
fruit; birds hover; peacocks, storks, partridges, parrots, vaunt their
beauty, with the grace of the models from which they were drawn, in days
when we were living in wattled huts. The more conventional outlines—the
cornices and mouldings, the continuous vandyke, with a great rose boss
at every angle—although strikingly unfamiliar, are eminently satisfying
to the eye, and the wonderful realism of the flowers, grapes, and
vine-leaves, which fill up every remaining inch of the façade, is like a
dream of Grinling Gibbon carved out in massive stone.

Where, unless in the Alhambra, or (as we learn from Fergusson, De Vogüe,
Dieulafoy, and other authorities on Persian art) in remote parts of
Persia, can we find anything in the least comparable to the bewildering
richness of the designs which have blossomed for us here in the
wilderness?—far, not only from mankind, but from such gifts of nature as
would make possible the presence of mankind; where, for lack of water,
even the rich soil of the great tableland cannot be cultivated, and the
district must for ever remain, as it has ever been, a desert! The Arabs
have no traditions of this place, as they have of so many other ruins,
and they do not even ascribe its foundation to Saladdin or the Khalifs,
to whom all that is great is almost invariably assigned. Can a building
covered with human and animal designs owe its origin to the Moslem, to
whom all such representations were forbidden? Although Thompson, the
author of "The Land and the Book," proposed to consider the ruins as
those of a church and convent, there is, apart from all other
difficulties as to size, plan, and position, no single indication of
Christian workmanship or symbol. Were the Romans likely to build a
sumptuous Oriental palace in a lonely desert, far from any military
road? If the Bedawy, the wandering Ishmaelite, sole denizen of deserts
such as this, were for once to depart from his normal style of
architecture—two or three poles and a piece of cloth—is it likely that
his descendants would have preserved no tradition of so extraordinary a
deviation?

One solution offered is, nevertheless, that it was the work of Byzantine
architects, employed by the desert tribes, notably the Beni Sakr, in the
days when they were rich with the subsidies paid to them by the Romans
for protection of their colonies and forts and roads from the
encroachments of other enemies of the desert; that it was never intended
as a place of residence but merely for the reception of ambassadors, who
were to be over-awed, partly by the miracle of this rose of the
wilderness, partly by the skill shown in the triumph over niggard
Nature; or, in the event of this being insufficient, were to be
separated from their steeds, and presented with free house room until
hunger, thirst, and loneliness should make them amenable. Whether the
work remained incomplete from paucity of money or of ambassadors, is not
revealed.

Another solution, of which Fergusson is the originator, is that it was
the work of the Persian king, Chosroes II., who, between the years 611
and 614, overran the whole of Northern Syria and Asia Minor. Gibbon's
enumeration, gathered from contemporary authors (Gibbon's "Decline and
Fall," Chap. x. 701), of his 20,000 camels and 3000 concubines, his 960
elephants and 6000 horses, suggests, at least, that he had the money for
the building of artistic palaces, and the fact that he spent the years
of his youth at Hierapolis, where he had ample opportunity for studying
the art and culture of Asia Minor, may suggest, further, that he
possibly had the taste. These kings of the Sassanian dynasty were,
indeed, noted for their love of architecture, and the Court favourite of
Chosroes II., Ferhad, was an architect. A drawing of an ancient
bas-relief at Shiraz, to be seen at the Institute of British Architects,
presents Chosroes as slaying a lion, while his fair favourite, Shireen,
watches Ferhad sculpturing birds and foliage upon a rock. Some forty or
fifty Sassanian bas-reliefs, sculptured pictures such as those at
Mshatta, still remain in various places. Moreover, we learn that
Chosroes II. had thousands of Greek and Syrian slaves, whom he employed
in the construction of sumptuous buildings. The site of Mshatta might
well lie in his route between Damascus and the Nile. (_See_ Chap. iii.
p. 53.)

The sudden arrest of the work—one stone west of the entrance gate has
been just laid down beside the place prepared for it, many stones have
the sculpture incomplete, or merely indicated, we saw slabs upon which
tentative sketches of horses had been made—might be accounted for by the
fact that, in 623, the Emperor Heraclius, "the Roman eagle swooping
magnificently in her dying throes," compelled Chosroes, after only, at
the utmost, fourteen years of power in Syria, to recall his troops from
Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor, and though, for four years, the strife was
fierce between Persian and Roman, the latter ultimately triumphed, and
Chosroes died miserably in a dungeon. Barely ten years later the Romans
were banished by the Saracens.

The learned Professor Brünnow has made the suggestion that this building
originated with the Ghassanides, the Beni Jafn, who migrated from Yemen
in the first Christian century and, having been made, by the Romans,
wardens of the marches of the Empire, developed later into an important
dynasty; submitting even to the civilising influences of Christianity,
for, in 180, Amir I. founded a monastery in Haurân. Brünnow observed the
same vandyke pattern, which, however, is in itself a somewhat elementary
design, upon a water jar in Jaulan, a district considerably north of
Mshatta, but where, he observes, the Ghassanides were at home. Although
the jar was modern it was conceivably copied from an ancient design, as
was, undoubtedly, another standing beside it. Moreover, he found a
pattern of double vandykes—that is, of squares joined at the corners,
upon a frieze in the same district. Other archæologists object that
certain details cannot be older than Justinian, when Arabian kings held
no sway near the Jordan, others doubt whether the Arabian kings ever
extended their power into this unquestionably Roman province. To the
mere layman it seems so probable that a row of vandykes was the first
thing that Adam drew with a stick upon the sand, that he fails to find
in it anything distinctive enough to form the basis of a historical or
architectural theory.

The entrance, with its magnificent façade, is to the south, the
sculpture, extending over 156 feet in the centre of the face, is broken
by a gateway, and rises to the height of 18 feet. Behind this is a
quadrangle, 170 yards square, at each angle a round bastion, and five
others, semicircular, between them. On the south front alone there are
six, the central gateway being flanked by two, boldly octagonal, and
magnificently sculptured. The interior is best described as being
divided into three portions, by parallel lines running north and south,
the side ones about 46, the centre about 66, yards in width. The centre
one has been divided into three sections; that nearest the gate, which
is portioned into many chambers, was probably intended for a guard
house; the second may have been an open space, with a fountain, and the
third or northernmost was the palace itself. This consists of brick
walls, resting on three courses of stone, the bricks, of somewhat
curious form, resembling, it is said, those of no known building, except
a ruined palace north-east of Damascus, described by Tyrwhitt Drake and
Sir Richard Burton. They are like Roman tiles, but larger and thinner, 3
inches thick and about 18 inches square. The palace is divided into
twenty-four rooms, the entrance hall being about 50 feet square, four
others being perhaps two-thirds of that size. The entrance is through a
wide doorway, with massive pilasters and elaborate capitals, with
ornamentation, possibly, of Persian or Egyptian—certainly not of
Greek—design. Architects have perplexed themselves over the problem,
still unsolved, as to how the palace was lighted, as there is not a
single window from without, and within only a few small round openings
over the doors. Bliss, of Beirut, the distinguished American
archæologist, conjectures that the large halls were unroofed, and that
the smaller rooms opened upon them, a plan quite consistent with the
Oriental conception of a house, originally derived from tents opening
into a central space, and developing, first into rooms opening into a
court, and, later, into the modern house, in which all rooms on both
floors open into a leewan, or central apartment.

Naturally, all these observations were made later, for it was our
privilege to remain for some nights within the palace walls, where, amid
kind and hospitable friends, and in comfortable tents, bearing the
familiar initials T. I. W. (Thames Iron Works), relics of the abandoned
English railway, we found leisure to rest and to dream. Some of us found
the spell of fairyland so strong that little else than dream seemed
possible. Never, perhaps, so loud as here, did we "hear the East
a-calling,"

     "something which possessed
 The darkness of the world, delight,
 Life, anguish, death, immortal love
 Ceasing not, mingled, unrepressed
 Apart from space, withholding time,
 But flattering the golden prime
 Of good Haroun Alraschid."

It was, perhaps, bathos, on our part, but we wished Tennyson had known
enough Arabic to write Er-Rashid!

How far it all seemed from the littlenesses we have learned to confuse
with realities—"the greeting where no kindness is," "the dreary
intercourse of daily life"!

 "We grew in gladness, till we found
 Our spirits in the golden age."

Our thoughts turned to dear ones far away as, we may fancy, do those of
some who have gone from among us, so far removed we seemed even from
those nearest in spirit! We were ready

 "To pass with all our social ties
 To silence, from the paths of men,
 And every hundred years to rise
 And learn the world, and sleep again."

Towards evening, when the golden light was fading from over the wide
plain, we turned our steps towards the eastern hills, a long, low,
limestone range, a day's ride distant, although, in the clear
atmosphere, it seemed as if we might almost reach their foot in time to
see the sun set. One of the soldiers in charge of our party kept us in
sight all the time; for away in those dim recesses are wild tribes, who
submit to no government but that of their own chief, Ibn Rashid, the
great Arabian potentate, whose stronghold is far away beyond the hills,
in the city of Hayil, and whom all other shechs hold in awe. Our host,
Dr Schumacher, told us that not even his Circassian soldiers, fierce and
fearless as they are, would consent to accompany him beyond that plain
into the district of Hadramat, and it was still with the sensation of
being in touch with fairy lore that we listened while the Professor told
us stories of his sojourn in that distant land, of hospitality received
in that far-away stronghold, and of personal and friendly intercourse
with the great chief himself. We were interested later to note the
anachronism of the two cairns, on widely distant hills, remains of Dr
Schumacher's survey for the great German map of East Jordan.

As our shadows lengthened we stood to watch the herds of gazelle
descending into the plain; the graceful creatures, secure in their
swiftness, coming so near that we could watch their movements even
without our field-glasses. We had already learnt that they came down
daily, towards sunset, often close to the palace walls, and our
Sportsmen had long lain in wait for them there in the hope of game, but
the news of the human invasion, the profane breaking of the silence, had
gone forth, and the gentle creatures, having little reason to feel
confidence in the lords of creation, had turned away elsewhere.

As we retraced our steps we lingered, picking up here a flint
arrow-head, gift of a distant past, there a bleached snake-skin, perfect
as though worn but yesterday. Other treasures, too, we found: wonderful
velvety arums, crimson, purple, and black, not the large _arum
palæstinum_ of the spring, but a minute, dainty, fairy-like copy of it,
fitly adorning this dream world; crocuses, leafless, almost stalkless,
white, mauve, and pink, rich relations of the "naked ladies" of our home
meadows, and tiny pink geraniums, the lingering guests of summer.

Scarcely were we again at home, when Nature endowed us with another, and
truly royal, spectacle. As the full moon rose, above our palace walls,
she was eclipsed, and we stood long, watching alternately the western
miracle of sunset and the eastern pageant of the slow and, as it seemed,
reluctant moonrise. Some of the Arab servants watched with us, but they
were of so superior a class that they showed but the faint,
unimaginative interest of average civilised man elsewhere. They told us,
however, of the superstitious practices still pursued by those "who knew
no better"—the singing and beating of tom-toms and sacrifice of a cock.
They were wonderful servants, or seemed so to us, the slaves of the
kitchen of the West. The cook produced excellent dinners, of three hot
courses, upon a box of charcoal embers he could lift with one hand, and
the waiters, summoned with a hand-clap, not only brought but _ran_ to
bring whatever you might want. Everything was spotlessly clean, and the
waiting at table would have done credit to an English "Jeames." They all
spoke at least three languages, and they amused our leisure moments with
games and songs. The native, however, must come out somewhere, and we
are bound to record that, when an imprisoned cock crowed from a small
wooden box, these Arabs, who are never quiet one second themselves, took
him out and whipped him!

We went to rest early in our luxurious tents, and woke next morning to
find, among other miracles, that the water in our jugs was barely above
freezing point.



CHAPTER V

AMMÂN

 "Lost Echo sits amid the voiceless mountains."

 SHELLEY


It was with something like the pain of a personal parting that we bade
farewell to Mshatta. Our friends, too, were breaking up camp this 7th of
October, and as the German flags were saluted before being taken down,
we realised to the full, as sometimes happens, that here was one of
those moments in life which could never recur; that our joy in the
marvellous beauty of the spot, in the indefinable fusion of Art and
Nature, was such as we could never repeat. The swallows, who had made
their home in the ruined palace, would soon dart and skim in
consciousness of sole possession; the lizards, when the sun became hot,
would bask upon the wall as they had basked a thousand years; the
gazelles would wander fearlessly around at sunset, all would be as
before, except where man had left his _imprimatur_, the scar of death
and destruction that follows his tracks across the face of Nature. The
very dogs had gone already: the foolish puppy, with its woolly coat, the
beautiful tawny deerhound, more light limbed, more fleet than ours, in
proportion as the gazelle, his prey, exceeds our moorland deer in
swiftness and in grace. The dream was past, "so sleeping, so aroused
from sleep," we were on one of those tablelands of life from which no
change was possible but descent to the commonplace of every day. We had
seen the pale moonlight on the palace walls, the purple hills we might
never hope to cross; we had had visions of an enchanted world we might
never see; we had had glimpses of a page we might never hope to turn.

     "Under the arch of Life where love and death,
 Terror and mystery, guard her shrine, I saw
 Beauty enthroned; and though her gaze struck awe
 I drew it in as simply as my breath."

We were bound for Ammân, not more than between five and six hours' ride
away, and our horses, refreshed by their rest, went gaily along the
gently undulating plain. Somewhat north we came in sight of Castal, a
Roman fortress, on a hill westward, which some of the party—the
Sportsmen, and the Doctor—had visited yesterday, and which Tristram, its
discoverer, considered different in character, as well as superior in
size, to the usual castle of lookout and defence to be found all over
districts where Roman colonies and roads may have needed protection and
supervision. Although the place is not mentioned in Eusebius, either in
the _Itineraries_ or the _Notitia_, its name is obviously Roman, and its
size, for it is capable of accommodating some twelve hundred cavalry,
speaks for its importance. It contains many fragments of fine white
marble, not indigenous. There appear to have been two castles: the main
building, on the crest of the hill, 84 yards square, of which only the
lower storey remains, and a smaller building, northward, of superior
workmanship, with a balustrade of fluted Corinthian squared pilasters.
The ancient city, which includes remains which may be Greek, stands N.W.
of the castle. During the last five years it has been occupied by Bedu,
very greatly to its injury.

We had exchanged our escort, as the officer granted by the Pasha for our
safe conduct was not responsible for us after we had reached Madaba. We
had, accordingly, bidden him farewell before leaving, and had been
touched by the fact that he had positively declined to receive a
present, alleging that to do so would detract from the honour which he
had enjoyed in being permitted to accompany so distinguished a person as
the Professor. The member of our party who best knew the country,
cynically observed that he must have seen more profit in refusal than in
acceptance! He had a good voice, and, though Arab music is certainly an
acquired taste, had given us pleasure, and contributed variety to the
_al-fresco_ concerts we occasionally enjoyed. Among other songs had been
one composed by a certain poet Nimr, whose grave we were to visit later.
Silence is impossible to an Arab, and when they are not talking they
sing. Our mukaris also sang, the words often being improvised out of
some passing circumstance, and with nonsense rhymes.

Whether the following was the actual air or only another exactly like
it, it would be impossible to say. For this we are indebted to Dr
Schumacher, who found it among the 'Anazeh tribe of Bedu, said to be
especially fond of both music and poetry, and who relates that, "walking
in the caravan of camels, his mantle or sheepskin thrown over one
shoulder and an old musket or a huge stick carried on the other, the
Bedawin is heard continually chanting the following monotonous song":—

 [Music:
 Ya yab a ah yeh | ya hala aleh
 Ya yab a ah yeh | âh ya ha lâ leh | oooh!
 ]

When the Arab sings he shuts his mouth, and, very literally, "sings
through his nose," four notes, or rather tones, amply sufficing for a
melody. When we sang they seemed vastly amused, and our younger mukari
was caught more than once mimicking our gestures, beating time, and
opening his mouth; while the other was in fits of laughter.

The successor of our officer was a Circassian, and, though equally
picturesque, of quite a different type. In place of the flowing robe and
floating keffeeye of the Bedu he wore an astrachan cap, close-fitting
coat, leggings tucked inside low shoes with heels, and the military
cloak of the Turkish cavalry. His horse was very powerful, and always
well groomed, and, what is more unusual in the Turkish army as
represented in Syria, his accoutrements and harness—silver-mounted, with
enamel decoration—were bright and well kept. He had all the apparent
moroseness characteristic of his race, and never spoke except under
pressure; but the Lady reported that he was kindly in rendering small
services unasked, would always ride up to her if she became accidentally
separated from the party, especially if she were any distance in
advance, and was expert in mounting and dismounting her, although never
obtruding his assistance.

About half-an-hour from Mshatta the Sportsmen sighted a herd of gazelle,
and, still sore from previous disappointments, dismounted to stalk
them—as usual, in vain. They vanished like smoke round the base of a low
hill, which one of the party climbed, in search rather of information as
to their habits, than in hope of a kill. He came back with the report
that even a gunshot had failed to break up their ranks, and that they
went on their way in perfect order.

The road, still over a wide plain, with occasional undulations, might
have been considered barren of interest by those who could not find
delight in the wonderful gradations of colouring, dun against the
cloudless sky; the sensation of infinite space; the crocuses and minute
arums, dainty jewels set in golden sands; the darting lizards,
distinguishable only in motion from their surroundings; the tiny white
shells of the land-snails; the scent of the wormwood _artemisium_ when
crushed beneath our horses' feet; the myriads of larks, including the
exquisite crested lark—the Mary-lark of the Highlands of Scotland; while
now and then a deep purple shadow crossing our path told of a
griffon-vulture or lanner-falcon swooping over the plain, to the terror
of bird and beast.

From time to time the Professor would break out into song, not the
irritating snatches which are an insult alike to silence and to
conversation, but a consistent and complete rendering, as careful as if
in any drawing-room, of some quaint old folk-song picked up in his many
wanderings—and which, sung with an artistic verve in a mellow tenor,
others uniting in bass or alto in a harmonised refrain, filled the air
with a melody not unworthy of the surrounding silence.

Suddenly we were startled by a sound so unwonted, yet so strangely
familiar, that we could hardly believe in its reality—the shriek of the
railway whistle! We were again nearing the Haj railway, at a point where
it is actually in use, for 300 kilometres, out of the 2000 projected,
are already complete. A little farther and we came across quite a
village of the tents of the workmen, the engineers and foremen being
mainly German. The Turkish flag was floating, and Turkish soldiers were
in charge, for the protection of the undertaking, which seems to be
regarded by the Bedu rather with a sad apprehension than with active
opposition. Dr Schumacher relates that, when surveying for the English
upon the line afterwards abandoned, he discussed the matter with the
friendly shech of the 'Anazeh—a superior tribe, said to number
300,000—who is the official protector of the Haj road. Shech Muhammed
realised that the presence of the iron monster must rob him of much
grazing ground; but he resigned himself, in Moslem fashion, to the
inevitable.

"I see well that with the great iron road we cannot remain long in
Haurân; but we know that this country is not for ever to be ours, for we
have heard how the descendants of those whose bones lie under the ruins
of this land are to come back, and rebuild once more its cities, even as
they were in the times of their forefathers"; adding, after a pause:
"But we will retire to the 'Ajlûn [the district farther north], where
there is place yet enough for our tribe. _Allah yebârik!_" ("May Allah's
blessing be upon it!"). The Bedu hold the tradition that the _frenjy_
(Franks) originally possessed the country, and will one day return; that
all over the land are indications, marked upon stones, of treasure to be
recovered; and that the visits of archæologists are for the purpose of
so changing these marks as to confuse the Arabs, who are beginning to
understand them too; for have they not their museums in Constantinople
and Jerusalem, and are they not making investigations and excavations of
their own?

We crossed the railway, a point where it had reached 200 kilometres
south of Damascus, and very soon afterwards began to feel that we were
once more in the world of man, however remote may have been the date of
his occupation. Caves and grottoes in the hillside showed traces of
adaptation to his needs; hewn stones lay about in piles; what looked
like the remains of a cenotaph attracted our attention; and we
dismounted to examine a group of sarcophagi—some but lately exposed to
view, others which had long lain upon the surface. Most had a
resting-place for the head and a groove for the lid.

A sudden turning at the ford of a rapid stream revealed the town of
Ammân, lying in a narrow valley between low but precipitous hills. Most
of us were utterly unprepared, after six hours of riding across a lonely
tableland, to find an orderly town of 10,000 inhabitants, of an aspect
so superior to anything we had seen since leaving Jerusalem, or even, so
far as the actual town is concerned, to Jerusalem itself, that an
explanation seemed necessary, and the statement that the population was
Circassian was, geographically, an added perplexity. The houses, built
partly of mud brick and partly of ancient material like those of Madaba,
were well placed, most had porticos and balconies, and some were
enclosed with well-swept yards. It was not immediately that we realised
to the full the causes of a certain sense of unfamiliarity, of having
passed into another country, with other conditions. The ear was,
perhaps, the first sense conscious of change. The town was _silent_.
There was none of the shrieking, none of the high-pitched voices, none
of the singing of an Arab entourage—not only because we were among
Circassians, but also because we were in a place where not a woman, not
even a young girl, was to be seen! There were men in plenty, silently
stalking about, like shabby ghosts of the Prince Regent, in
tight-waisted coats, high vests, a display of silver buttons and braid,
full skirts, and high boots. Instead of the dangling sword proper to the
rest of their historic effect, all carried a revolver at the side, as
well as a long dagger upright in the girdle. All were armed, and a row
of cartridges across the breast was as much _de rigueur_ as the low
astrachan cap which completed the costume. There were no cafés; no
dice-boards at street corners; no lounging, screaming, idling; no
"making kafe"—the Arabic phrase for doing nothing, in company with
others similarly employed, and a row of water-pipes.

These Circassians have an interesting history. In spite of all that is
said of "the unspeakable Turk," perhaps few rulers have so many
varieties of voluntary immigrants within their domains. The Circassians
of East Jordanland seem to have first left their home in the Caucasus,
Kamnimotsk, or Kakupschi, about the year 1860, and to have wandered in
search of a home where they might be privileged to live under Moslem
rule. Their leader, the Emir Nūh Bey, a major in the Russian army,
conducted them first into Asia Minor, and finally, after many
difficulties and disappointments, about 1878, to this district, which
they call "the edge of the desert"—possibly with some personal intention
on the part of their leader, who, as his son, 'Abd el hamīd Bey,
informed Dr Schumacher, was descended from a family named Hûsh or Hûshi,
who came originally from Ramleh (by some identified with Arimathea) in
the plain of Sharon, and fought against the Crusaders. Their crest,
which they bear upon their weapons, and which, in the Caucasus, they
branded upon their cattle, was a mace. The same, with the addition of
the letters _alef_ within the head of the mace, was also branded upon
their slaves. These Hûshi travelled from Jerusalem into Anatolia, and
thence into the Caucasus, and now, as it would seem, were, after the
lapse of centuries, on the way back to the cradle of their race. They
arrived in the Jaulân, the district which, with the Belka, they have
since colonised, about 1880, and in less than a quarter of a century
have changed the face of the district which they inhabit. They are
frugal and industrious, and have some knowledge of agriculture.
Unfortunately, their industry has, in one respect, been misdirected, and
they are the acknowledged purveyors of tree trunks for roofing and other
architectural purposes, which they convey all over the district in
two-wheeled carts drawn by a team of oxen. As the wheels are guiltless
of grease, as roads, as we understand them, are practically unknown, and
the loads heavy, the approach of these vehicles is known half-a-mile in
advance. The melancholy result of their timber trade is that the
surrounding hillsides have, within the last twenty years, been almost
denuded of their oaks and pines. It is some slight mitigation, however,
that the Circassians plant as well as destroy, and promising fruit
gardens follow the banks of the stream, especially at Jerash, but also
at Ammân and elsewhere.

In many respects they are very different from the Arabs: in their
industry, their settled homes, their power of initiation, their habits.
They have superior agricultural instruments; they do not look upon the
camel and the ass as the sole possible means of transportation; but,
alone in Syria, until the recent establishment of Jewish and German
colonies, employ carts, those for lighter purposes being made of
wattles. They preserve their national dress, and neither the tarbush of
the Arab of the towns, nor the aba or mantle, common to all, have ever
been adopted. Many speak Turkish fluently, the elder ones some Russian,
most a little Arabic with a bad accent, but their ordinary tongue
continues to be Circassian. The Turkish Government has permitted them to
repopulate various ruinous towns—Nawa, Ammân, Jerash, and various
villages—for a given period, without paying any taxes, and, in spite of
certain incidents of attack and reprisal between themselves and the
Bedu, fierce enough for the time, they have succeeded in inspiring their
neighbours with respect or, perhaps, awe. They themselves, it is said,
are perfectly fearless in attack or defence, and extremely severe in
exaction of vengeance. Whereas the fellahin fear to attract attention by
successful crops of fruit or grain, lest they should be called upon to
feed the Bedu and the tax-gatherer, the Circassians fear no one, and at
present pay no taxes. Hence, as well as from superior capacity and
industry, they effect, as no fellah may venture to do, improvements of a
kind which are permanent; they make walls and roads, they devise systems
of irrigation, they plant hedges and trees.

In Ammân, as we came to know later, their industry had very unfortunate
effects upon the glorious ruins which adorn the hills on either side:
the basilica has wholly disappeared, and one apse of the thermæ; but the
Muchtar, who may, perhaps, be likened to the mayor of the town, has
forbidden further depredations, and, happily, the new population has not
chosen to establish itself among the ruins.

We had made no arrangements for our accommodation in Ammân—a visit which
had not been included in the original programme. However, we had been
assured there was a "locanda"—it is curious how many Italian words have
been accepted into Arabic—and as we had not yet lunched we made our way
thither without loss of time. It was in the hands of Christians, and,
from the point of view of domestic arrangements, Christianity is not a
success among Arabs; and, without entering into details, it suffices to
say that life can now hold no mysteries for us in the matter of inns,
nor, it may be added, of domestic entomology.

Its full horrors were not revealed until we went inside, and, in our
circumstances, to go indoors while we could remain without would have
shown a singular lack of imagination and of the spirit of psychological
inquiry. There were two courts, an inner and an outer, and those who had
investigated certain obvious details decided at once upon the outer,
and, accordingly, chairs were arranged round a deal table under a vast
apricot-tree—our eight horses, with several other horses and donkeys,
being under a neighbouring apricot-tree. We then collected our
saddle-bags, and spread our luncheon, after which we drank coffee for
the good of the house.

By-and-by a very smart young officer, speaking French and
German—educated at a military academy in Austria—came to call upon the
Professor, and again we all had coffee. He came as the representative of
the officials of the railway line. We were interested in the fact that,
unlike most other Arabs of our acquaintance, he did not smoke, and said
that he came of a family of non-smokers.

His visit finished, we went off to see the ruins, which lie on the hills
on either side of a stream, which we crossed on stepping-stones, though
it is said to be not fordable, even on horseback, in the winter.
Burckhardt, who was here in 1810, speaks of the elaborate arrangements
made for the benefit of this water-supply, a rare natural gift in the
Belka. Not only the banks, but the bed of the river was paved, in the
manner we had seen ourselves at Ba'albek and elsewhere; and the water
was full of fish, probably the chub, which still exist here, and in the
Jabbok and Arnon, though ignored by the Arabs, who do not care for fish,
and who when they do kill them, with a view of selling them to
Europeans, pursue the wasteful and unsportsmanlike method of a discharge
of gunpowder!

The most impressive of the ruins, perhaps because the least interfered
with by modern buildings, is the theatre. The stage has been destroyed,
but some forty tiers of seats still remain visible, as well as about
twenty-four boxes, each capable of holding a dozen persons—traces in all
of places for some 3000 spectators. Voices on the stage are still
distinctly heard on the farthest tier, although the acoustic properties
have probably suffered from the removal of parts of the building. A fine
colonnade, of which several Corinthian columns, 15 feet high, still
remain, stood in front of the building, leading to the river on the one
hand and to a small odeum on the other. Burckhardt was at a loss to
conjecture the nature of the latter building, of which much more existed
then than now: the roof had fallen in, and made entrance difficult, but
the wall of the semicircular area was, he says, richly decorated, The
theatre is built into the side of the hill in such a way that the third
tier of boxes is excavated in the solid rock.

On the opposite side the ruins are more numerous, but less impressive. A
mosque, said to be of the time of the Abbasides (eighth century), stands
almost side by side with a Byzantine church; and a little to the
north-east are the remains of thermæ, which received water by means of a
conduit from the river. A street of columns on the left bank of the
stream, and parallel with it, indicates the direction of the high street
of the town, nearly a thousand yards long; while north of this stood a
forum (by some thought to be a temple) of a late Roman date. The town
was evidently walled, and the street of columns was closed by gates
towards the east. We heard of many tombs, sarcophagi, and remains of
dwellings worth seeing behind the town, but we had little enough time to
look at even what was of primary interest. We were, however, thanks to
Circassian civilisation, more fortunate than Burckhardt, whose guides
forsook him, alarmed by the sight of fresh horse-dung near the ruins,
and fearful of falling into the hands of the Bedu. When reproached, they
replied that they did not see why they should expose themselves to the
danger of being stripped and robbed of their horses, because of his
foolish caprice of writing down the stones!

Burckhardt was not the first visitor. He had been preceded by Seetzen in
1805-6, who, however, left very little record of his travels in Haurân
and the Belka.

It was necessary to cut short our investigations while enough daylight
remained to allow the Professor to pay a visit to the muchtar—a visit
worth recording on account of the extreme contrast between our
experience here and everywhere else upon our journey. While we were
seeking for his house he seems to have had intimation of our approach,
for he received us in the road, and, although he once uttered a
half-hearted _tfaddalu_, an invitation to enter which we did not accept,
contrary to all Oriental custom and tradition, he showed no desire
whatever to entertain us. Elsewhere, to turn away without coffee,
repose, and cigarettes would have been a mutual insult. He was civil
enough, but of the typical Circassian moroseness, and his small
meaningless features, which, despite its reputation for beauty, were
characteristic of the race, never once lighted up with even a passing
gleam of sunshine.

It was dark under our apricot trees, when we regained the courtyard of
the inn, and while we waited for supper we watched with interest the
scene around us, again struck by the contrast with our accustomed Arab
surroundings. Where there are Arabs there are all the elements of a
comic opera: the bright colour, the laughter, the ever-changing groups,
the perpetual singing—not individual egotistic singing, but chorus,
harmony, antiphon, with hand-clappings and merry shouts. There are
sudden, and, apparently, inconsequent dances, and equally sudden and
inconsequent changes of mood, drawing of knives, quarrels, embraces, and
hand-shakings, such as exist nowhere but among Arabs, and on the lyric
stage. Here, however, it was no comic opera, but a transpontine drama of
the good old-fashioned sort—a novel by "Monk" Lewis, or Thomas Love
Peacock. Men in long, dark drapery glided in and out by the imperfect
light of the single lantern hung beneath the trees; they pulled their
caps low on their foreheads, and veiled their faces with a cloak thrown
over the left shoulder; all carried arms, and seldom spoke, and then
only in low voices; the few Arabs present were of the upper class,
officers mainly, and they seemed affected by the general depression, and
drank coffee and smoked their water-pipes in silence. A single
interruption served but to accentuate the prevailing mood. A drunken
man, a very rare spectacle in a Moslem country—a Christian, of
course—had reached the voluble and affectionate stage, and assured us
all, in a variety of languages, of his perfect readiness to oblige us in
any direction. The audience silently ignored his existence, and it was
in vain that our host led him again and again to the gate: our polyglot
friend invariably took affectionate leave, and promptly returned. We
felt persuaded that the audience considered his conduct merely another
form of the Christian eccentricity, of which our presence had already
supplied a curious example. We were all crazy Franks—some drank wine,
and others "wrote down stones." Relief came at last, in the person of
the only woman we caught sight of in Ammân, a stout Italian of
determined aspect, who withdrew her lord and master, not without a
certain amount of discussion, which must have further enlightened our
companions as to the manners and customs of the superior races. In spite
of his irregularities the wretched creature was not friendless. He was a
wandering contractor and builder, and possessed, we were told, of some
fifteen helpmates dispersed over various parts of the country! Even our
own mukaris were silent for once: Khalil slept over his water-pipe, and
the boy was at his usual evening task of patching the cloths which hung
beneath the horses to protect them from the flies, and which they
generally kicked into rags in the course of the day. The beasts
themselves seemed asleep after their meal—the only one, according to
Arab custom, in the twenty-four hours. Dogs and chickens stirred now and
then in dark corners, and cats crept about with a fitting air of silence
and mystery.

Presently our supper arrived: good bread, good soup, good rice—one may
always count on good cooking among Arabs in this country—and a fowl good
to eat, although, to the eye, too much _au naturel_, too suggestive of a
boiled corpse with wagging head, and legs so much in their normal
position as to be somewhat surprising upon the dinner-table. Our host
offered us beer, and arrived with bottles and glasses in hand, well
knowing that at the end of a long, hot day, and in our present
surroundings with, the dust and smell of a stable, a couple of bottles
cooled in running water, even at the price of a franc and a half each,
might be hard to resist; but even the Sportsmen nobly looked the other
way, in the probably futile hope of a classification apart from our
fellow-Europeans, who could be still heard carrying on a polyglot
exchange of compliments at the farther end of the village. We solaced
ourselves with tea, and retired early, in the expectation, entirely
unfulfilled, of a long night's rest.



CHAPTER VI

JERASH, AND THE FORDS OF JABBOK

 "Once more to distant ages of the world
 Let us revert, and place before our thoughts
 The face which rural solitude might wear
 To the unenlightened swains of pagan Greece."

 WORDSWORTH


There was no lingering in Ammân next morning. From sheer habit of
historic reference we speculated as to whether it were Ptolemy
Philadelphus who, having rebuilt the ancient city of Rabbath Ammân, and
bequeathed to it the name of Philadelphia, still used among the Arabs,
may have endowed it, moreover, so far as our _locanda_ was concerned,
with one of the most offensive of the ten plagues of his native land,
after which we did our best to forget our recent experiences. We may
remark in passing, however, that traces, painful traces, lingered till
later in the day, when they were finally removed by a dip in the strong
current of the Jabbok, for it had been in very mournful Gregorian
cadence that some of us had chanted "Moab is my washpot" while a little
water was poured on to our hands out of a bottle by way of morning
ablution. However, it was a privilege worth paying for to be able to
sing the Psalms in Moab under any conditions; and whatever else may have
failed the party, it was never the spirit of cheerful resignation.

We have not yet sung the praise of the early start! One must come to the
East to learn to the full the beauty of the morning and of the night, as
well as, _inter alia_, of life without fogs and coal fires and bad
cooking; of life where houses are spacious and servants serve, and a
napoleon goes further than a sovereign, and the post comes but once a
week or so, and newspapers are not.

There is here none of the discomfort of the early start at home—no
shivering over ice-cold water, no closed shutters, no bolted front door,
no makeshift breakfast brought by the wrong servant in incomplete
toilet. No matter how early you rise the world is up before you; you can
have as much at five o'clock as at nine. Your horse is a little stable
stiff; but he is as pleased with the early start as you, and he snuffs
the dewy air with æsthetic enjoyment. In the hollows of the mountains a
mist wreath is lying; here and there a few clouds even may hang low to
the west—but you know they are only dew, and that even now in October we
are perfectly certain of a fine day, with at least another thirty to
follow. You are invigorated, encouraged in mind and body for the whole
day, even when, as in our case, you know that the day will last for ten
or twelve hours.

Almost immediately on leaving the village we began to climb—for,
although Ammân is 2747 feet above sea-level, the town itself is in a
hollow—and soon found ourselves on an excellent Roman road. The
particular pleasure which the Professor had promised us for this day's
journey was that we should do homage at the tomb of Abdel Azziz en-Nimr
Shech Adwân, more often spoken of as Nimr, a great poet, of the Bedu
tribe of the Adwân, who addressed a great number of poems to Watka, his
twenty-fourth wife. We had heard one of his poems recited by our Bedawy
escort, and we were willing to take the Professor's word for the rest;
for the poet's works have been collected by but one editor, who has not
yet published them, and the two or three writers who mention the spot at
all do so mainly in connection with a certain Shech Goblan, who, before
Jerash and Ammân were given over to the Circassians, was much feared
throughout the district.

About two hours after leaving Ammân we reached the Wady el-Hammam, and,
a little later, Yajûz, a large Bedu cemetery on the side of a hill,
strewn with columns, capitals, and hewn stones, obviously the remains of
a Roman town. Some great stone troughs, which may have been sarcophagi,
attracted the attention of our horses on account of the water they
contained, and we gladly dismounted, and left them to such refreshment
as was provided by the very muddy spring, while we climbed the hill a
short distance to the tomb of our laureate, who may certainly be
regarded as having an experimental knowledge of what characteristics
were most acceptable in a wife, and whose eulogy of Watka should at
least have the merit of discrimination.

The whole hillside was covered with graves, and some curious
combinations presented themselves. There the tomb of some landowner was
marked by a plough, the inconceivably primitive instrument with which
the fellah scratches the surface of the fertile soil; there a fragment
of the blue cotton, which is the inevitable dress of the Bedu, twisted
round a stick, shows where some woman has been laid to rest; farther
again, a stone, roughly sculptured with the instruments of
coffee-making, celebrates the hospitality of some unnamed shech; and, in
strange contrast with the savagery of to-day, we step over a sculptured
capital or carven pillar, memorial of the art and culture of nigh two
thousand years ago; while, reminder that "extremes meet," our thoughts
are carried back yet another thousand years at sight of the welys—tombs
of Moslem saints—standing apart on mounds, shadowed with ancient oaks,
where the pious come to worship to-day, to the Israelites who did so of
old time, "upon every high hill and under every green tree."

Around the spring were groups of women, with the tattooed faces, hanging
veils, and curious long, narrow dresses of the East Jordan Bedu, barely
wide enough to stride in, but lying at least a yard upon the ground,
front and back, so that when they walk the skirt has to be kilted, often
to the entire violation of such ideas of modesty as may have originally
dictated its design. They had taken much interest in the Lady, and, as
usual, had speculated as to which of her companions might be her
proprietor—always the first point to ascertain—the remaining matters of
curiosity in regard to a woman being: What did she cost? and How many
boys has she?—after which they frankly discuss her "points," and express
surprise at the smallness of her waist.

Suddenly there was an instant's silence; all eyes were turned southward,
where a procession had just come into sight winding up the valley. A
weird, melancholy song broke out, the women pressed forward, and we
realised that a funeral was advancing. We had already observed a
newly-made grave; but the procession passed it by, and halted beside the
nearest wely, under a group of trees. The four men who carried the bier
laid it gently down, and the women, with loud cries, gathered about it
on the ground. The body was that of a woman, so closely wrapped in her
dress and veil that we could only perceive that she was slender. All
joined in the loud wailing, led, apparently, by a professional mourner,
who sat beside the corpse, beating her breast, and throwing dust upon
her head. It was a pathetic evidence of the homogeneousness of
humankind, despite differences of custom, that those who really wept,
silently and apart, were, we understood, the mother and mother-in-law of
the dead, while a young man who leant alone against a tree trunk was the
newly-married husband of a three days' bride. She had died, they said,
of a sudden illness, the description of which suggested measles or
small-pox. We could not but think of the little home made desolate, of
plans and hopes never to be realised, of the bereaved husband—for here,
among the Bedu, marriage is a matter of choice and not of compulsion, as
among the Arabs of the towns—of the poor girl herself, who, having
reached what is the main object of existence among the Orientals, had
been called away just as life was opening. Our point of view may have
been a little too Occidental, or it may have been another case of
"extremes meet," the mean being represented by the higher civilisation
of Khalil, a true Jerusalemite, for his one remark was: "It was a pity
the bridegroom had had no use out of his bargain when he had paid so
much for her!"

The young man was presented to the Professor, who expressed our
respectful sympathy, and we turned away after a last glance at the
loud-wailing group of the indifferent, the silent sadness of those most
concerned. Whatever the age or race, "Light sorrows speak, great grief
is dumb."

When we left the wady we climbed a precipitous hill, and found ourselves
overlooking a deep gorge to our left—the Wady er-Rumman—where abundant
verdure showed the presence of water—a rare sight to our eyes,
habituated to the aridity of Jerusalem, where running water is so
utterly unknown that if for a few hours once a year, after exceptionally
heavy rain, it is reported that the Kedron flows, the whole population
turns out to witness so extraordinary a phenomenon. As a matter of fact,
moreover, the Kedron does not flow, unless far underground, and only a
spring—the well of Job or Joab—overflows into the Kedron bed, but the
fact is always thus described. Further, we crossed a small tributary
stream, where we found a number of shepherds and herdsmen, with camels
and sheep and goats. By this time our horses were hot with the climb,
and we were forced to deny them the desired refreshment, and hastened
on, already somewhat occupied with thoughts of the luncheon promised to
us at the fords of Jabbok. When we came—some of us riding in advance
with the officer—to a pleasant stream shaded by oleanders we thought he
must be mistaken in riding resolutely forward, for we were not yet used
to a district in which two streams might be passed in a single day, and
were half inclined to wait for those behind. However, we pressed on,
and, as no shouts followed us, were glad to have made so much way that
it was possible to dismount and rest our horses for a few moments, for
the Jabbok, it appeared, was still distant—"over two hills," declared
Khalil, when he at last overtook us. They were somewhat stiff hills both
to climb and to descend, and not Jacob himself, with his two wives and
two women-servants and eleven sons, and all his other anxieties, could
have been more glad than we, when, from our last ascent, we saw beneath
us a wide expanse of fresh green, showing that we had reached the fords
of Jabbok. The river, rising from streams in the hills above Ammân, and
sweeping round by the north-west before taking a sudden turn towards the
Jordan, accomplishes a journey of sixty miles, not counting its
windings, to reach the point which, at starting, was only eighteen miles
away. In its descent of some three thousand feet its current gains great
swiftness, and it rushes with considerable violence over its rocky bed,
as the widely-scattered pebbles—white and water-worn—abundantly testify.
Two roads follow its course; and though but a couple of distant villages
were in sight, the cultivated land all along its banks showed the near
presence of active humanity: a deserted mill among the bushes, and a few
fellahin watering their cattle, were, however, our only reminder of
human life. We were free to picture any chapter in its history which
might strike our imagination—Jacob, occupied with all his family cares
and apprehensions, suddenly called upon in the darkness to remember the
world of the Unseen; Gideon pursuing the Midianites; the hosts of
Chosroes marching from Damascus to the Nile; the Roman legionaries
constructing the very road which we have followed to-day; Galilean
pilgrims coming up to the Jerusalem feasts by way of Peræa; the
propagandists of the Prophet hastening to the north; and lastly, and
more enduring than all, the fellahin, with their elementary agriculture,
seeking their daily bread like the swallows that are darting overhead or
the rat that splashes into the stream, oblivious and indifferent to all
other life, and, therefore, permanent and persistent in their own.

For ourselves, however, the fords of Jabbok represented primarily the
means of taking a bath, and secondarily, those of making tea. The sun
was still hot; we had descended considerably since leaving Ammân, and
the bushes offered welcome shade. The Circassian soldier brought the
Lady a handful of ripe blackberries—the first we had seen in Syria,
where blackberries are abundant enough, but for lack of moisture never
seem to ripen. The oleanders, with their rich crimson; the rare feast of
abundant verdure; the grey water rushing upon its white bed, with the
effect of blue which gives to the Jabbok its modern name of
Ez-Zerka—"the Blue"; the contented horses cooling their limbs in a deep
pool, made a vision we were loth to disturb; but we were already late,
and after an hour's repose were bidden to mount once more. When we had
crossed the rushing ford and regained the plateau we realised that our
shadows were already lengthening.

We had now crossed an important political boundary, for the Jabbok is
one of the three rivers at right angles with the Jordan—the Arnon,
Jabbok, and Yarmuk—which divide Eastern Palestine into three provinces;
physically, as well as, for the most part, politically, though their
disentanglement is difficult, distinct. Behind us was the Belka, the
land of Ammon and Moab, practically the Peræa of ancient history, in the
time of the Herods politically associated with Galilee, and always
regarded by the Jew as being as much a Jewish province as Judæa or
Galilee. The climate of the Belka is temperate, and in spite of
insufficient water at its highest points the treeless plateau is ever
fresh and breezy, providing pasture for innumerable herds. It is but
seventy miles from the orange gardens of the Philistine plain, but eight
hours' direct ride from the palms of Jericho, and yet the Arabs have a
proverb: "They said to the Cold: 'Where shall we find thee?' And he
answered: 'In the Belka.' 'And if not there?' 'In Baalbek is my home.'"
Now Baalbek, as we saw it in August, lies under the shadow of snowcapped
mountains.

Now we were coming into 'Ajlûn, the land of Gilead, "the region of
Decapolis," a district of forests—falling, alas! before the axe of the
Circassian—of springs and streams, tributaries of the Jordan as well as
of the Jabbok and the Yarmuk; the land whence "a company of Ishmaelites
came with their camels, bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to
carry it down to Egypt." There is still "balm in Gilead." We had
scarcely crossed the river when our soldier, stooping from his saddle,
snatched a handful of deliciously fragrant herbs, which he presented to
the Lady, who had no opportunity of verifying their species, but was
quite prepared to believe that she had enjoyed the sweetness of the
_balsamum Gileadense_, though with suppressed misgivings that it might
be only the _melissa officinalis_. Indeed, the low growth of _artemisia_
and other herbs throughout this region is so sweet that, in the wilder
parts of the Belka frequented by gazelle, which feed upon it, the Arabs
constantly pick up their droppings for the pleasure of the fragrance.

Low ranges of hills to the east lay between us and that far-away
fascination of the desert of which we had first, and most fully,
realised the spell at Mshatta, making us feel that we were, in some
degree, coming once more into touch with humanity and the commonplace of
life, and farther away from that dim region known to so few, and which
throughout history has always been the great source of danger, the check
upon the civilisation of East Jordan, ever open to the great hungry
desert, whence in all ages wild tribes have come forth to seek
sustenance from the fertile tablelands of Bashan, Gilead, and Moab.

Here not Nature and the desert but Art and Greece were the prominent
facts in the minds of some among us. Ammân, fresh in our memory, had
been already an important stronghold two hundred years before Christ,
and, later, a member of the Decapolis, although, alone of the ten cites,
lying south of the Jabbok. Here, as never before, were we able to
realise something of the nature and meaning of that mysterious alliance
of the Decapolis, of which the origin is unknown, but which we had seen
represented in miniature in the present-day policy of playing off the
Circassians against the Bedawy tribes of that same district, which, even
two thousand years ago, was then, as now, the check upon all prosperity
and progress. There seems little doubt that this confederacy—like the
Arab dynasty of the Ghassanides at a later date under Trajan—was
intended to balance these Semitic influences; and these cities were
thoroughly Hellenic, not only in art and culture, but, unlike other
parts of Eastern Palestine, in religion also, the cult of Astarte alone
being borrowed from their surroundings. Most of them were placed, like
Ammân, on either side of a stream, with fertile land all round about,
not on a hill, as was the Semitic custom, to judge from the positions of
most of the villages one sees west of the Jordan. Their pastimes, too,
were Greek—the theatres, the bath, the circus. All had the street of
columns, the forum, the temples such as we had seen at Ammân; each was
approached by just such a road as we were treading now.

While we talked and mused the sun had set, the short evening glow was in
the west, and we were soon cautiously walking our horses in the dim
twilight. Suddenly a stately arch reared itself against the fading sky;
while beyond, far as the eye could reach, dusky columns arose against
the background of the dark hillside. Before we could take in the scene
the veil of night had fallen, for here in the East "with one stride
comes the dark." We could see no longer; but we knew we were descending
into a valley, for the sound of the rushing stream at the bottom seemed
to get nearer, till at last we felt that our horses' feet were in the
water. The village was asleep, but few lights shone from the windows of
the frugal Circassian inhabitants, and we could only trust to our kindly
animals, who were taking their lead from that of the officer, who rode
in advance. We were ascending a very steep hill; soon we had reached
level ground, and we awaited the coming of the responsible members of
our party. Looking back we could see the great lordly columns standing
out snow-white in the starlight, monuments of a race, an age, a system,
a religion that had perished like last year's snow, leaving not a link
with to-day, except that common aspiration after happiness, present and
future, which had inspired the existence of the Past, as it still
inspires those who gaze upon its monuments. Never had the Past seemed to
stoop towards us as now in this eastern starlight, and it seemed as if
we might almost hope for answer when we asked:

 "Gods of Hellas, gods of Hellas,
 Can ye listen in your silence,
 Can your mystic voices tell us
 Where ye hide?"

Surely somewhere in the Past there must be a voice; the intense Life
which had created yonder city could not be wholly dead; all that was
beautiful and true must somewhere, somehow, be living still! We were
roused from our meditations by the cheery voice of the Professor calling
out of the darkness to know whether any were missing among us. We were
close by the house of the mudir, and could even see the guards and
servants assembled in the lighted portico. It was an anxious moment, for
it depended upon the nature of his reception whether we had hospitable
entertainment or were cast adrift upon the resources of the village, as
had been the case last night in Ammân. We rallied our forces, dismounted
from our horses, and presented ourselves and our credentials.

We were very thankful when the door was at once unlocked, and we were
admitted into the guest-room, a large apartment, with a high divan
running its entire length provided with cushions, a few chairs, a round
table in one corner, and on the deep window-ledges great piles of very
official-looking papers. We were too tired to criticise our
accommodation, which was, at all events, infinitely superior to that of
the night before, and thankfully seated ourselves. Meantime the news of
the Professor's arrival had evidently reached the mudir himself, for in
a few minutes the scene was changed: three or four servants appeared,
the floor was spread with two magnificent carpets, either of which would
have been the pride of any London drawing-room, additional lights and
some extra chairs were brought in, and nothing was needed but a duster,
which, however, did not appear. The Lady surreptitiously cleaned the
table, the carpets having stirred the æstheticism which our Ammân
experiences had put to sleep, and we deposited our head-gear. The men
removed their shoes, and placed themselves on the high divan; the Lady,
unable to emulate so lofty an example, seized some cushions, and
established herself upon the floor, secure of violating no Oriental
etiquette, and, by the Professor's direction, covered her head with her
keffeeye, which was, he said, more distinguished under the circumstances.

Next the mudir himself appeared—'Abd el-hamid Bey, son of Nūh Bey,
already mentioned—a fine-looking man in European dress, who shook hands
cordially with all the party, and assured us of our welcome, and coffee
was at once served. To say that it was coffee with hêhl conveys nothing
to the Occidental understanding, and mere words fail to express all that
hêhl can add to a cup of coffee. It is nectar and ambrosia brewed in
Olympus; it is a taste and a perfume, a stimulus and a sedative. For
centuries we have been drinking coffee—unimaginative Occidentals that we
are!—and nobody has taught us the virtues of hêhl. It is only a bean,
portable, one would suppose, conceivably an article of commerce, or
which might be cultivated or otherwise introduced, although how, on
second thoughts, it would combine with the beverage we profanely call
"coffee" is another matter. Coffee worth the drinking must be roasted,
crushed (in Heaven's name not ground!), and made while you wait, not
brought in paper bags from the grocer, and kept for weeks. It is brought
to the door of the room in the brass pot in which it was made, and
poured out tenderly as a butler pours out a perfumed wine, leaving space
at the top of the cup, small as it is, for the aroma.

After coffee we entered into conversation—that is to say, the Professor
did—with the mudir, the Arabic-speaking Sportsman being occasionally
called in when their Arabic vocabulary ran short; for to both it was a
foreign language, the mudir, as has already been seen, being a
Circassian. He remembered the names of the few savants and other
travellers who had passed that way, and inquired after all, asked
particulars as to our journey and as to the personality of each,
exhibited some polite surprise at the presence of the Lady in these
distant regions, and still more that she was not the property of any of
her fellow-travellers. He showed great concern as to her comfort, sent
for additional cushions, and several times personally addressed her. He
is known as a man of exceptional intelligence and breadth of mind, and
of a friendly and amiable disposition, in striking contrast to the
average Circassian, who is said to be treacherous and morose. He is
quite an important person, having at his command from ten to fifteen
mounted _gens-d'armes_, and when he goes eastward among the neighbouring
tribe of the Beni Hasan for the collection of taxes is accompanied by as
many regular soldiers, with their officer. He settles small differences
and disputes, and, says Dr Schumacher, carries a few bullet-holes in his
coat as token of his office of peacemaker. More serious cases are taken
by both Bedu and fellahin before the Mutesarrif (Governor) of Haurân.

While conversation proceeded we could hear most welcome sounds
without—chopping, frying, beating of eggs; and, after a second edition
of coffee, two servants entered, carrying a large cotton drugget, which
was spread over the carpet, and upon which was set the Sanīye, a large
round tray, placed upon an X-shaped stand, which raised it several
inches from the ground. We all seated ourselves on the floor, as well as
our host and another guest, a very intelligent man, and a great talker,
but less adapted than the mudir to polite society.

Each guest had a large slice of excellent wholemeal bread, and each had
a spoon and a towel. There were two dishes of meat, with vegetables, two
of rice, two of fried eggs, and two basins of pomegranate juice,
exquisite in colour and delicious to the taste. Everything was very
good, well cooked, and neatly served. It was etiquette to help yourself
to any dish, and in any rotation you fancied, putting in your spoon, and
conveying the food direct to your mouth—a custom which had its
drawbacks, as the Lady found when she fixed her affections on
pomegranate juice, and found it becoming gradually impregnated with
onions, as her neighbour, the Bey, our fellow-guest, was alternating it
with mouthfuls of stewed mutton. The hospitable mudir constantly pressed
us to eat, inquiring, when the Lady's appetite failed, whether there
were anything else she would prefer. Finally we all adjourned to the
doorstep to have water poured upon our hands. Then followed more coffee,
always with hêhl, cigarettes, and, after half-an-hour, the samovar. If
the coffee had been worthy of the Bedu the tea was worthy of Russia. We
drank it, of course, in tumblers, with crystallised sugar and floating
slices of lemon, and we stirred it with spoons of heavy silver,
beautifully chased and enamelled.

Then came more conversation, mainly political, and it was very
interesting to hear the mudir's emphatic repudiation of prejudice,
national or religious, especially since the Circassians are accused of
fanaticism and of hatred of Europeans. "It was all one to him," he
averred—"Moslems, Jews, Nazarenes!" Two or three servants stood by the
whole time, and one could not but contrast the perfection and apparent
readiness of their service with that of the superior domestics at home.
They perceived your needs before you could find them out yourself, and
tea, or bread, or sugar, or a match, as the case might be, was ready to
your use before you were aware that you needed it. Bread or sugar was
brought in the fingers, it is true; but knives there were none, and
spoons were scarce.

The Lady gave the signal for retirement by frankly falling asleep among
her cushions. Retirement, as a matter of fact, there was none; but
mattresses, pillows, and lehafs (wadded coverlets) were brought in, and
laid side by side upon the floor. The Lady's bed, lehaf, and cushions
were covered with rich crimson satin. An ornamental sheet of white
cotton, with a coloured design, was spread upon the mattress; the silk
cushions, as is the cleanly Eastern custom, had an embroidered breadth
of cotton down the centre, and the lehaf had a sheet of fine cotton
tacked to it upon the under side. Thus luxuriously accommodated we all
slept so comfortably that we were able to think of Ammân next morning as
a nightmare of the past. We must, however, acknowledge that during the
early part of the night we were occasionally awakened by the
conversation outside the door, probably of our escort and the servants;
for in this country, where men rise at dawn, sleep odd half-hours
anywhere, and at any time in the day, they may or may not go to bed at
night if they should happen to find anything more amusing to do.
However, when at last the Professor went outside to suggest silence and
the extinction of lights, they most obligingly met his views at once.

Next morning we rose about six from our silken couches, and went outside
the door in search of towels and a piece of soap, and poured water into
each other's hands wherewith to make such ablution as was possible under
very public conditions; for, though there was none of the ill-mannered
staring and crowding around of the Madaba Christians, the Circassians
condescended to a little distant curiosity, and even a couple of women
appeared upon an opposite housetop.

We knew that a very long day was before us, and we had hoped to start
early, but our host detained us with kindly importunity. When he
appeared upon the scene our bedroom had once more become a drawing-room,
and we had taken our early cup of coffee. Then followed more coffee, and
then the samovar, with bread and excellent goat's-milk cheese; and
finally the mudir's son, a fresh, open-faced, young man, appeared,
mounted on a beautiful mare, to accompany us across the valley to the
ruined city on the western side.

From the terrace outside the mudir's house we had already taken in the
general effect—all the more striking and wonderful that the old town has
not been defaced by a single modern building, and hence is far more
easily reconstructed by the imagination than Madaba, or even Ammân—a
fact for which the history of the settlement, rather than any æsthetic
perception, accounts. When the followers of the Emir Nūh Bey arrived at
Jerash he took possession of the east side of the valley for the use of
his immediate family and attendants, reserving the opposite bank for
relatives who were to follow. For various reasons—possibly the accounts
of discord with the Bedu, possibly even some diplomacy on the part of
the family here—they have not, so far, arrived, and some two hundred
immigrants who came in 1895 were passed on southward. There seems to be
some difference of opinion as to the extent of the population, Baedeker
giving it at three hundred; Schumacher, whose very interesting monograph
is the only other available source of information, at between fifteen
and sixteen hundred souls, including some score of fellahin, who serve
as labourers and ploughmen, and a few Moslem shopkeepers, Here, as in
Ammân, we saw not a single woman in the streets.

The ruins are so extensive, and stand out so clear against the hillside,
that, with the Professor's help in identifying the buildings, it was
easy, from the east side of the valley, to reconstruct in imagination a
town which imagination only can picture, so utterly different is it from
the banalities and vulgarities of modern utilitarianism.

Owing to the harder qualities of the stone the ruins are better
preserved than those at Ammân, have lost less of their original
sharpness, and have the freshness so remarkable at Pompeii. And yet an
Arabic writer of the thirteenth century, Yakut, describes it even then
"as a great city now a ruin." In the ninth century it was mentioned with
admiration by the earlier writer, Yakubi, although its decline probably
began with the expulsion of the Byzantines.

The most striking features of the scene before us are its highest point,
the Temple of the Sun; its most southern point, the triumphal arch
leading towards the Roman road to Ammân; and the great colonnade, of
which over a hundred pillars are still standing, running from one end to
the other of the city. There are two large theatres, two temples, a
great oval forum, four bridges, and at each of the two points at which
the main street, with its propylæa, is intersected by side streets,
there is a tetrapylon, a rotunda, square on the exterior and once
decorated with statues. The town was pear-shaped, and enclosed by walls
3552 metres long, having at least three, probably six or seven, gates.

This is a mere enumeration; of such a feast of beauty for the lover of
form it is almost hopeless to attempt description. As we descended, and
took a few points in detail, we realised that, with the amount of time
at our disposal, even to catalogue such a scene was an impossibility. At
the utmost we could but note a few of the more obvious features, and we
longed for a few days to dispose of.

Crossing the main street with its great colonnade, many of its splendid
pillars lying on the ground, overthrown by earthquakes, we pass the
ruins of grand propylæa and of a ruined palace, and, climbing an almost
perpendicular ascent, reach the great Temple of the Sun, enclosed by a
colonnade, with a portico approached by steps, consisting of three rows
of immense Corinthian columns, 38 feet high and 6 feet thick, the
acanthus leaves of the capitals being of rare perfection of workmanship.
Smaller temples have stood around it, and, descending again, turning our
horses' heads a little northward, we find a theatre with sixteen tiers
of seats, and a proscenium strikingly low, intended, it is said, for
gladiatorial combats and exhibitions of wild beasts. This theatre, like
the temple, is joined to the main street by a colonnade and tetrapylon,
the rotunda of which was once decorated with statues. The forum next
attracted us. It is of oval shape, 120 paces in length, and fifty-five
of its columns are still standing, all having Ionic capitals. Another
temple, smaller than the first, lies near the south gate. Its massive
walls, 7½ feet thick, contain many niches and windows; the double
Corinthian colonnade is scattered far and wide, though the bases are
easily traced, and the little that remains testifies to the former grace
of the building.

Close beside this is a large theatre facing towards the north, so that
the spectators must have had a magnificent background of their familiar
public buildings. Twenty-eight tiers of seats are visible, but probably
others lie buried in the débris. It is estimated that the acoustic
properties of the building must have been excellent, and that at least
5000 spectators could enjoy the spectacle. We observed an arrangement
upon the pillars for the hanging of garlands. Beyond the south exit in
the town wall is the Triumphal gateway; according to some the two
gateways were alike, forming a splendid vista as one approached the
town, each being of triple construction—the central arch 29 feet in
height, the total width 82 feet. There are considerable remains of an
interesting building, thought by some to be a naumachia, or theatre for
the representation of naval battles. That there exists a circus, of
which many rows of seats still remain, cannot be doubted; but recent
authorities are of opinion that the adjoining basin, 230 yards in length
by 100 yards in width, into which well-preserved channels lead the water
from the brook below, must have served some other purpose.

We could not but regret that the lateness of our start cut short our
opportunity for further enjoyment of the scene; but a day of ten or
twelve hours was before us, and we soon found ourselves once more upon
the Roman road, with our horses turned towards the south.



CHAPTER VII

ES-SALT

 "And fade into the light of common day."


We knew, when we had lost sight of Jerash, that the romance of our
journey was over, although we had still before us three days of the
happiness of an open-air life, and of being face to face with Nature in
her wilder utterances. We were bound for Es-Salt, across the fertile
land of Gilead, and over some of the highest ground east of the Jordan;
but we could not but feel that, having looked upon "the giant forms of
empires on their way to ruin," all else must seem commonplace, so far,
at least, as it was associated with humanity. The land had relapsed into
the hands of a people perhaps even more rudimentary than that from which
it had been wrested, or, so far as the city of Es-Salt was concerned,
into the worse savagery of a veneer of Europeanism.

We were not sorry to have to retrace, for some two hours, our steps of
last night, and so recover some of the impressions which we had lost in
the gathering twilight. We halted, for a short time only, at the fords
of Jabbok, after which we followed a steep path for about half-an-hour,
and then began to descend into the Wady El-Mastaba, a desolate gorge,
shadeless and hot, from whence we were glad to escape again into the
open, passing a few huts, which constitute the village of Mastaba, which
owes its existence to the spring Ain El-Mastaba. Again another gorge,
the Wady Umm Rabi, also with its spring; and a third, and more important
wady and spring, with its village of some thirty huts, Er-Rummâna, which
yesterday we had seen only in the distance. It is inhabited almost
entirely by Turcomans, who, as usual, betray their nationality by the
scarlet and orange touches in their dress—an agreeable change from the
perpetual blue of the Arab. These nomadic tribes are to the settled
Turks as the Bedu to the fixed population of the Arabs. They are fair,
of less pronounced features than their Semitic neighbours, and most
numerous in the north of Syria. They are occupied partly in agriculture,
but more especially in cattle and camel rearing. We passed some women at
a spring, and their manners struck us as having something of Circassian
moroseness.

Just beyond the village the horizon widened, and showed, away to the
west, the distant Samaritan hills, half way between us and the
Mediterranean.

Presently we came to the edge of the tableland, and saw far below us the
fertile gorge of Wâdi Salîhi. Here, we had been assured, we should find
a beautiful waterfall, 60 feet in height, and embowered in creepers—a
phenomenon almost unknown in Palestine. We never saw that waterfall; and
we had a secret theory, some of us, that "Someone had blundered," for we
were, moreover, required to descend a precipice calculated to disturb
the nerves of even such experienced travellers as we considered
ourselves to be. Some traces of a passing donkey were the only argument
which—about half way down—seemed to be in favour of a prospect of ever
reaching the bottom, which, however, was in course of time safely
achieved. We were much impressed by the agility of the baggage animals,
which clumsily, rather than heavily, laden, and wisely abandoned by the
mukaris, picked their way as skilfully and daintily as cats, although it
would be difficult to say whether the loose shale that crumbled beneath
one's feet, or the polished rock, which offered no foothold at all, was
the more disconcerting.

Down in the valley we found abundant shade, and the bushes were fresh
and green, but the water in the wady was so low and muddy that we were
the more convinced that we had entirely missed all traces of the
waterfall. The horses, after the recent excitement, were thankful to
drink, and we gladly spread our luncheon and made some coffee. In
missing our waterfall we had also missed an interesting cromlech, said
to be 13 feet in diameter.

About seven hours after leaving Jerash we entered the Wady Er-Rumemin,
where we forded a brook which serves to turn two or three mills, and
waters the small plain into which the valley finally opens. Here we
found the first traces of Christianity since leaving Madaba, always
excepting the locanda at Ammân: an orderly village with a Latin and a
Greek church, school, and presbytery, well-planted olive grounds and
neatly-kept vegetable gardens. We were already late, and dared not stay
to examine a group of ruins to the west of the Latin church, still less
others which, we were told, lay at a little distance.

Leaving the village by the right bank of the wady, now called El-Hor, we
climbed a steep hill, and found ourselves in a beautiful oak wood.

As over a score of varieties of oaks are found in Palestine they are
somewhat difficult to distinguish, but some at least of these were of
the species _quercus ægilops_, having acorns with scales, the cups of
which may be familiarly described as looking like miniature pineapples.
They are used in tanning, and, as they form quite an important article
of commerce, the trees are treated with more respect than is usual among
the destructive fellahin.

During the winter one meets, coming into Jerusalem, whole caravans laden
with great roots of trees, dug up for sale by the peasants of the
mountains, and from this, as well as from tradition, we may well suppose
that whole districts have been denuded of their forests. We are told,
however, by various authorities that woods as we know them, lofty, as
well as thick with undergrowth, have never existed here, and that such
wood as we were now passing through is of the normal type, the growth
open and scattered, and the trees thick rather than high. The
undergrowth seemed to consist largely of dwarf oak and terebinth, and as
we progressed farther, and the wood became thicker, of pine and thorn.

With thick foliage on either side, and lofty hills before us, we hardly
realised that the sun was setting when it was suddenly night. Our
cavalcade closed up together, and those in front were constantly calling
back to others to beware of stretching branches or other difficulties of
the path. The very horses, with the instinct of self-protection, in a
country where other protection does not exist, kept close to each other.
Our officer hurried to the front at sound of voices and movement, the
mukaris brought up the rear, and the Lady's horse was secured by a rope
to that of one of the men. An opening in the trees revealed a camp of
charcoal-burners, and as we once more began to ascend we could see the
lurid flames of others of the same trade, lighting up the surrounding
hilltops, and making the darkness around seem all the more substantial.
It was a darkness which might be felt. We knew, from occasional contact
with the branches, that we were still in thick woodland, and as we began
to climb once more, the path was so narrow and so perpendicular that our
horses could go only in single file. All but the Professor and the Lady
dismounted, rather from humanity than for safety, for the animals' sense
of direction was better than ours. As usual on occasions of anxiety, no
one spoke. Suddenly a shout arose out of the darkness, and the horses
halted; while those on foot pressed on to know the cause, and the
Professor, who was in advance, sent back his electric lantern. One of
the baggage horses had found his bulk too great for the narrow passage,
and the way was blocked by his entanglement. It took some time to set
him free and to ascertain that nothing was lost from his various
burdens. As we waited in the dense blackness of the wood, the poor
animals struggling for foothold on the steep ascent, the smell of the
hyænas was almost nauseating, and the cries of troops of jackals,
answering each other out of the darkness, lent a weird touch to our
surroundings.

Presently the obstacle was removed, and we were able to continue in the
direction of our oriflamme—the spark of light which showed that the
Professor, with his lantern, had reached a spot where he could safely
await our arrival. A fervent _Alhamdul-Illah!_ ("God be thanked!") from
one of our mukaris bringing up the rear, showed that the horses at least
were safe; and in a few minutes the stragglers on foot had joined the
group, one at least having special cause for thankfulness, as he had had
a very narrow escape from a fall over an unsuspected precipice. To see
each other was still impossible, and a startled _wain es-Sitt?_ ("Where
is the Lady?") uttered close beside her, almost gave her pleasure, not
from any desire to give trouble to her friends, but rather as assurance
that she had not already done so, for there had been moments of which
some of us hardly yet felt competent to give an account.

The look backward, from the high ground we had reached, was a spectacle
not to be forgotten. Three huge fires flamed high against the great dome
of night, which, now that we were out in the open, was perceptible in
the clear starlight, and no longer the wall of dense blackness which had
seemed to press against our very eyeballs. Moreover, behind us, to the
north-east, the moon was rising from behind the Jebel Osha, a mountain
3595 feet high, associated with the prophet Hosea, said to have been
born and buried here. The Bedu have a wely containing his grave, about
16 feet long, for all the great men of old were giants, and here they
annually sacrifice sheep in his honour. We felt, as we heard the story,
that a sacrifice to the rising moon would be less of an anachronism than
we were accustomed to suppose, so thankful were we to have some notion
of where the next step would lead us.

It seemed as if Es-Salt were extraordinarily remote, and we asked Khalil
if we were not near, with a faint hope that a light we could see away
down in the valley might represent the windows of the convent upon whose
hospitality we counted, and when he replied: "After two hills," we were
even inclined to suppose it a _façon de parler_, equivalent to
"by-and-by." However, he was right enough, and we had to descend and
climb, and again to descend and climb before, below, up the valley to
our left, the town became visible. The light we had counted upon, proved
to be again that of charcoal-burners, and a most Satanic spectacle it
was, for we came near enough to see a group of figures dancing and
leaping against the flaming background.

The last descent was somewhat of a pendant, except that it was on open
ground and by moonlight, to our perpendicular ascent in the wood, and a
row of telegraph posts at the bottom seemed to add insult to our
injuries: the affectation of an effort at civilisation which we felt had
been better expended in the clearing of a few rocks and the construction
of, let us say, some kind of path. Again, most of the party dismounted,
and it was interesting to observe how cleverly the animals picked their
way, even the laden baggage animals. When now and then they went, for
convenience, a little wide of the ultimate point, we noted with interest
how they came at a call from the mukaris—each animal having his own
name, to which he readily responded. It may be mentioned in passing
that, so willing and intelligent were our friendly quadrupeds, that the
only whip in the cavalcade was never used during the whole expedition
but to reprove the moral obliquities of the Professor's horse, who took
long to recover from his jealousy.

It was some consolation, in riding through the long town of Es-Salt, to
find that its inhabitants were still up. They were, in fact, celebrating
a festive occasion—the engagement, or, perhaps, more correctly, the
sale, of the daughter of some prominent townsman. We could learn no
particulars of the transaction, but to judge from the extreme gaiety of
the groups gathered about a flaming bonfire in an open space, it would
seem to be satisfactory to both parties—meaning, of course, the
bridegroom and the nearest male relatives—father, uncle, and brothers—of
the bride, for she herself was not likely to be consulted in the matter.

The kindly parish priests of the patriarchate, like those at Madaba,
received us with ready hospitality; one of them even vacated his own
room for the use of the Lady when it was ascertained that the Sisters of
the Rosary, who could more conveniently have accommodated her, had
closed their doors for the night.

We had time next morning to make some small acquaintance with Es-Salt.
Although it is a town having a large fixed population (10,000, which
includes 3000 Christians) we were struck by the anomalous fact that a
large number of the people looked like Bedu. The men had the slender
build and finer features we had met so universally since crossing the
Jordan, and the women had the much-tattooed faces, and even the long,
trailing skirts, we had met all over the Belka. Although it is the seat
of a kaimmakâm (governor), and has a Turkish telegraph office, it seems
to be still in spirit, as until recently it was in fact, in opposition
to the Government. Burckhardt, who was here nearly a century ago, speaks
warmly of the hospitality of what he calls the "Szaltese," who were then
Bedu at heart, and even in dialect. He says their public hospitality may
be estimated at about £1000 a year, collected from the people, and adds
that were they subject to the Turks more than that would be extorted
from them for forced entertainment. They had lately withstood a three
months' siege by the Pasha of Damascus. Then, as now, they were engaged
in three branches of commerce: the collection and sale for export of
sumach leaves, used largely for dyeing purposes; the weaving of carpets
from the wool of their own flocks; and above all, the preparation of
raisins.

It was quite a useful enlargement of notions to most of us to find that
the familiar raisin used in puddings is not, as the grocers spell it,
"Sultana," with some vague notion of an Oriental association with the
Sultan, but _Saltana_, and that it comes almost entirely from Es-Salt.
The fruit used for the purpose is a small grape without seeds. They are
spread out as soon as picked, and then turned over and over, with
fingers dipped in olive oil until they are all impregnated in every
part. They are then dried on wood ashes,—the wood employed being the oak
or terebinth—collected in baskets, and then spread out to dry on a
well-trodden earthen floor. Two and a half kilogrammes (a kilogramme is
about two pounds and a fifth avoirdupois) cost, on the spot, twelve
piasters, or about two shillings, less, in large quantities.

Another article of commerce is a very strong tobacco known as "heesh,"
from the Arabic word for the forests where it is cultivated. It burns so
badly as to have given rise to a proverb applied to a man or a subject
which puts a stop to conversation: "It is heesh tobacco; do not speak!"

A minor industry, the manufacture of rosaries, has originated in the
abundance of certain kinds of hard wood.

The situation of Es-Salt is 2740 feet above sea-level; but the town
itself lies in so deep a gorge, the mountains rising like a
perpendicular wall on either hand, that we asked the padre whether the
place were healthy, and he pointed out that the town extended, in fact,
along two valleys—the Wady Osha, and a narrower wady, much less airy,
and consequently less sanitary, as had been proved again and again in
times of epidemic, when cholera and influenza have lingered and recurred
long after they had ceased in the town itself.

The water is good, and very abundant, the town spring being the finest
we had seen in the country.

Es-Salt, the seat of a bishopric, was not important till the Crusades. A
fine mausoleum, known as Sâra, is said to be of Christian origin; and
there are the remains of a church, hewn in the rocks, with many
scattered rock tombs. The castle dates only from the thirteenth century,
when it was rebuilt after destruction by the Mongols of the ancient
fortress, which may have withstood Saladdin.

We were quite sorry to take leave here of our silent Circassian, who had
always shown himself kindly and capable, but it seemed that his duty
ended at Es-Salt—and, indeed, his services were no longer requisite. We
noticed several Europeans in the town, probably merchants bringing
raisins for export, or possibly grapes—for we had had some for breakfast
of very unusual quality, and what a gardener would call "well grown,"
which seldom happens in this country, where the vines are most often not
raised from the ground, so that the under side of the bunch, though well
ripened by the warm, dry earth, is flat, and not always well coloured.

Considering the amount of commerce with other places it seemed to us to
show an almost insolent—perhaps it was only an ignorant—indifference on
the part of the inhabitants that they should make no effort whatever to
improve the approach to Es-Salt. We left the town by a track but little
better than that by which we had approached it—a track which would have
spoilt the business of any decent stone quarry. The immediate exit was
over a series of ash-heaps and middens, across which the women were
trailing their long skirts with entire composure. Next we mounted a
steep ascent over polished rock or scattered shale, just as it happened,
and then, after a short distance on level ground, we began a long and
difficult descent into the deep gorge, which more or less we followed
all the way to the plain, that of the Wady Shaib, now absolutely dry,
but which must be in winter, judging from the nature of its bed, a
rushing torrent, losing itself finally in the Jordan.

About an hour from Es-Salt we met a boy with a laden donkey, which we
passed with some difficulty, and a little farther observed a spring of
water and a khan. There was some question as to whether we should meet
with any water in the only other spring upon our route; but it was
obviously too early for luncheon, and we continued our way, passing on a
hill, to our left, a wely dedicated to Shu'aib, diminutive of Shaib, the
Arabic name (used in the Koran) for Jethro, who gives his name to the
wady—why is not obvious.

About noon we reached the Ain Es-Shech, and our horses were not slow in
discovering that water of a kind was to be had. There was, at all
events, welcome shade from a magnificent, wide-spreading fig-tree, the
branches of which, growing close to the side of the hill, were available
as couches and resting-places for half of its height. We boiled the
water again and again, and fished out all its most striking
disadvantages, though some were, unfortunately, less obvious than the
microbes during a recent cholera scare at Bethlehem, which were reported
by those personally interested in the quarantine question to be "as
large as a napoleon."



CHAPTER VIII

THE JORDAN VALLEY


 "Jordan past"


Nothing during the rest of that day's ride contributed so much to our
entertainment as the conduct of the white baggage-horse. He was the pair
of Sadowi, and of very similar appearance, but had not been selected to
carry the Lady because he was, like most Arabs, and some Arab horses,
blind of one eye. It had not at first dawned upon him that his companion
had received promotion, but the fact had been lately revealed by some
accident, and had been working in his mind ever since. To-day things had
come to a climax, and he now perceived that not only had Sadowi escaped
from the hateful and galling pack-saddle—in itself a preposterous
load—not only had he a much lighter burden to carry, but he was giving
himself airs of superiority, and travelling, as a rule, the foremost of
the entire cavalcade. Such autocracy was not to be endured, and could
and should be put a stop to; if he reigned he should not reign alone.
The creature, a worthy and excellent baggage horse, doing his duty in
his own state of life, now became self-willed and persistent under the
overmastering influence of this dominant idea. We called him the
"majnoon," the name which the Arabs give to the half-crazy men,
generally derwishes, who wander about, living upon the alms of the
benevolent. He insisted on keeping up with his comrade. In spite of all
inconveniences occasioned by his imperfect sight, his clumsy burden, he
generally succeeded in remaining side by side with, or immediately
behind, the Lady. If driven back he would persistently push his way past
all the rest in turn, till he regained his position, loudly grunting
dissatisfaction and determination. As we descended to the plain, and the
broad caravan road allowed room for any number to ride abreast on the
wide sands, the horse most accustomed to go beside Sadowi made several
efforts to take up his usual position, always repulsed by the "majnoon."
Sadowi himself, who received an occasional push from the unwieldy heap
of baggage, especially when on the blind side of his companion, was not
wholly pleased with the arrangement; but whenever the Lady tried to give
a wider berth to her inconvenient attendant, the "majnoon" always
followed, discontentedly grunting at the extra strain of the additional
pace he compelled himself to assume.

We had become, by this time, exceedingly conscious of the change of
climate, which had occurred even since the morning, and much more so
since we left the Belka. The gorges had been hot and close, the sands of
the plain seemed to radiate heat, and the level rays of the sun, as we
rode westward, produced towards evening, that sense of brain fatigue
indescribable to those who do not know their effect in an Oriental
climate—to many far more exhausting than the direct heat and glare of
midday. The moment, however, that the great god sank to rest behind the
hills of Judæa, we luxuriated to the full in the wonderful beauty of the
brief twilight. Away to the east, almost without our perceiving it, the
purple hills arose once more to shut out from us that enchanted world of
which we had taken one brief glimpse. A distant flame, lurid against the
pearly sky, showed us that the charcoal-burners were still at work.
Wreaths of white mist lay in the hollows of the mountains; while the
clear mirror of the Dead Sea, stretching far as the eye could reach,
reflected the hills of Judæa, dark masses, looking across the wide plain
to the evening glow beyond. A single line, standing up like a needle
against the west, showed us the Russian tower on the Mount of Olives,
reminder of all that world of politics, and rivalry, and ambition, of
which for a few days we had so gladly lost sight. Even our old friend
the jujube-tree, _zizyphus_, was here again, reminding us that we were
once more in subtropical surroundings, and several times we had to stoop
to the horses' necks to avoid its unwelcome embraces.

It was some hours since we had met with anything human; but, as the
darkness gathered, the glare of camp fires broke out here and there,
among the bushes, and, far away, the lights of Jericho seemed to beckon
us to the repose we were beginning to need. Suddenly we came upon a
weird scene—an assembly of the black tents of the Bedu, a bright fire in
the midst. Quite a large number of men were gathered about the flaming
pile, some preparing supper, others tending the animals—horses, asses,
camels—tethered beside the tents or left free to wander in search of
food among the undergrowth of scrub. "Waiting to cross the Jordan
Bridge," it was whispered among us, together with a warning that we must
approach this Rubicon as silently as possible, lest we should provoke
the jealousy and rivalry of others less fortunate than ourselves, and
cause superfluous discussion, and delay—for even those who had fulfilled
the necessary conditions of a now practically unlimited quarantine,
might not cross the river after sunset.

We rode on silently to the water's edge, and drew rein while Khalil went
forward, barefoot, to secure the opening of the gates before we ventured
in the darkness upon the slippery and rotten planks. There was a
cautious knocking, a long, low-toned parley. Our mukari returned, and
there was more parley among our leaders, and a suggestion made of "a few
napoleons," emphatically negatived by the Professor. Khalil returned to
his conference, and came back with a request for papers. The
Arabic-speaking Sportsman, armed with a portentous sheaf of teskerys
(local passports) and permits, went forward, soon returning, for an
instant, to tell us to get off our horses, for the poor beasts, becoming
restless, were making too much noise. This, we felt, implied that we
must be resigned to further delay, and we stretched ourselves upon the
sand, each securely holding the tether of his own horse, which would
otherwise have been off in an instant in search of food; for their
supper hour was already past, and they had had nothing since yesterday.

Entertainment did not fail us. In the camp we had passed, the Bedu had
finished their supper, and were now amusing themselves about the camp
fire, which flared high, and showed every detail more clearly than
daylight. First there was dancing and singing, both of the kind which
seems to us so singularly uninspiring—the tunes moving over about four
notes, the dance of about, perhaps, as many steps, accompanied by shouts
and hand-clappings; men dancing with each other, of course, or rather
opposite to each other, each occasionally resting his hands upon his
neighbour's shoulders. When this amusement palled, each kilted his
kumbaz into his waistband as one has seen a Blue-coat School boy dispose
of his very similar garment for precisely the same amusement, of
playing—leapfrog! With long, bronzed limbs, clean cut as those of a
race-horse, with not a superfluous pound of flesh and not an ounce that
was not muscle, it was really exciting to see these children of the
desert vying with each other in the familiar game, after a fashion which
would be edifying at Eton or Harrow.

No; it was not amusement that lacked, it was water! It was nearly eight
hours since we had had those precious cups of tea at Ain es-Shech, and
what we had brought away with us was, for the most part, finished. One
member of the party, an especially thirsty soul, whose supply had long
been exhausted, looked with ever-increasing longing at the flask of the
absent Sportsman. It was one of those admirable aluminium flasks,
covered with felt, which kept the liquid exquisitely cool and sweet, and
it had been hanging all day at the saddle-bow, and must now be ice cold.
The very thought added to his sufferings, as the beauty of that luscious
apple on a hot Oriental noontide may have increased the longing of our
mother Eve. "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!" The
Jordan murmured sweetly at our feet, rippling gently, and shining silver
clear in the starlight; but the cholera about the Lake of Galilee,
whence came that tempting stream, was a real and mortal disease, and not
the "backsheesh cholera" prevalent elsewhere. But that flask! He knew it
to be half full—a fact which in itself showed that the Sportsman was not
in thirsty mood: no man who knew anything of thirst—thirst such as
this—thirst which made one indifferent to all else—would carry about
with him a supply of delicious, reviving nectar, medicine alike for body
and soul—a pint of ice-cold tea! No; it was absolutely certain that were
he here, that kindly Sportsman, he would press the gift upon him, insist
upon his acceptance. Here in the East are there any laws so binding, are
there any rules of honour, of generosity, so inflexible as those which
concern the question of water? The most niggardly will give, the most
selfish will share, the most churlish will not refuse. How long will
that worthy Sportsman tarry?

There was a slight, a very slight, rustle in the darkness; something
moved beside that treasured flask, truly "the cynosure of neighbouring
eyes"; there was the suppressed sound of the withdrawing of a cork, and
the whole of the precious liquid went down the throat of the younger
mukari! It was impossible to move, to speak; and if there be any test of
endurance worse than thirst it is that, under certain circumstances, of
compulsory self-suppression!

After that the return of this longed-for friend was a matter almost of
indifference, and the information he brought was but unimportant in the
presence of that mighty thirst. The guardians of the bridge returned our
papers, which they probably could not read; they knew nothing of the
Professor's special privileges, or considered them a mere pretext for
the avoidance of backsheesh; there was cholera in Kerak; who was to say
that we had not spent these ten days in Kerak?—quarantine was
compulsory; no one crossed the bridge after sunset; they were heartless,
relentless, immovable, deaf to explanation. The hasty return of some
Bedu, who had also striven to enter with a caravan of laden asses, and
who, probably having some personal reason for travelling at this hour,
would have no conscientious scruples in offering backsheesh, confirmed
the report of the guardians' inflexibility.

To pass the night, weary as we were, upon this dry sand, beside a cool,
murmuring stream, with waving branches overhead, would be no special
hardship. The camp fires about us would keep off the jackals, which were
answering each other's cries across the plain; we had blankets, we had
even food. Alas! however, we had no drink, and then, our poor
horses!—kind, patient servants that they were: to-day, at the end of, in
some respects, the hardest day's work of the whole expedition, for,
although they had done little climbing, their long twelve hours' steady
work had been endured in burning sun and without the refreshing breezes
of the Belka. The three baggage animals had not even had the relief of
nearly an hour's freedom from their burdens, such as the others had
enjoyed, during the long conference. And again, for ourselves, how were
we, some of us especially, to endure the continued thirst?

"Bonsoir, madame, bonsoir, messieurs! je regrette—je vous en prie—venez
prendre un peu de café chez nous—vous reposer un peu!"

This messenger of mercy was a charming young man, beautifully dressed,
smiling, debonnair, shaking hands with all of us in turn. In a few
minutes we had walked across the bridge; the tramp behind us of our
horses' feet was convincing that it was not all a dream; in a few
minutes more we were seated about the door of a comfortable tent,
carpets were under our feet, the Lady had an easy-chair, the men had
stools; the light of a lantern showed comfortable domesticity within; we
were drinking sherbet, we were revived with cognac, we were refreshed
with fruit, and the preparation of coffee was in rapid progress.

By degrees we understood what had happened. The wardens of the bridge,
after the fashion of subordinates "clothed in a little brief authority,"
had taken our affairs into their own hands, and turned a deaf ear to all
explanation. Somehow, however, the matter had finally come to the ears
of the superior officer, an important functionary, who at sunset, his
duty done, had retired to his tent at some little distance. The name of
the Professor, carried to intelligent ears, had had its immediate
effect—and here we were, relieved of all apprehension, and luxuriously
awaiting the moonrise for the accomplishment of our journey.

Nothing could exceed the kindness of our welcome. Our new friend
presented his card to each of us, and we in turn wrote down our names on
paper, that all might feel friendly and at home. We discussed common
acquaintances among the Jerusalem effendis, promised exchange of visits,
sympathised as to the monotony of a solitary existence on the banks of
the Jordan, and were interested in hearing—from a Moslem—that such
things were all very well for John the Baptist or Elijah, but now one's
ideas were different. When conversation failed we ate nuts, almonds,
delicious salted pistachios: an Arab, even in the wilderness of Judæa,
is certain to be not far from nuts. The spirit of hospitality was so
diffused that when the Lady was about to reject one she was unable to
crack in her fingers, the negro servant gently took it, cracked it with
his own gleaming teeth, and returned it to her.

He was one of those big negroes common in this country and known as
_haji_ (pilgrims), probably because they often arrive with the Mecca
caravan, or even come on their own account to the mosque at Jerusalem,
the secondary pilgrimage of the Moslem faith. They are employed as
guardians of property, much as, at home, we employ watch-dogs, and may
be seen everywhere, sitting at the doors of public buildings or at the
gates of enclosed spaces. If you wish to enter a courtyard you knock at
the door, and call out "Haj!" certain that a giant negro will appear
upon the scene. They are said to be extraordinarily faithful, allowing
themselves to be misused and beaten rather than depart from the strict
letter of the commands they have received from their employers. The
negro in question was clad in snow-white robes, and as he leaned up
against the door of the tent in the starlight, absolutely motionless
when not employed, the intense blackness of his countenance showing
between his white turban and white kumbaz, it was difficult to realise
that he was of ordinary humanity and not a picture in a fairy-tale book.

Presently the moon looked over the heights of the mountains of Moab,
just as last night she had arisen above the Jebel Osha, and, if only for
the sake of our famishing steeds, we felt we must not delay. Our host
insisted upon sending an escort with us, alleging the difficulty of
finding the way among those weird hills and along the trackless sands.
On being assured that our men were competent to conduct us he still most
courteously insisted, and finally a sufficient reason transpired which,
out of kindness, he had so far withheld. It appeared that soldiers were
secreted in the wilderness on the lookout for criminals, of some nature
not specified, who were expected to attempt to escape by night into the
border country at the south end of the Dead Sea, the city of refuge for
the desperate and lawless, and it was just possible we might have some
inconvenience.

We gratefully accepted his kindness, and took our leave. We had already
received a lesson in hospitality, now we were to have one in deportment.
We could not but feel that our own adieux were lacking in grace, in
gratitude, in dignity, when compared with those of our friend; so
gracious without _empressement_, so respectful without servility—in
short, so entirely all that is most attractive in the higher-class
Oriental. The Professor, who had learned much in the school of Bedu,
alone showed to advantage, and seemed to possess a courtesy not wholly
graceless and European.

Our next lesson was in horsemanship. Our escorting soldier was as nearly
ubiquitous as it was in the nature of man and horse to be. A distant
caravan of camels showed sharp against the sky. He had flashed up to
them, interrogated them, and was back, beating up our rear, and again in
front, indicating the track we were to pursue; for Khalil had abandoned
responsibility, and was frankly asleep on the top of a pile of baggage.
Even the "majnoon" had wearily desisted from his ambitions, and had
retired to the rear with his humbler companions.

If that strange world had seemed weird and visionary in the morning
twilight, it was even more so under the moon, where the silent sand
cities cast long shadows of a blackness so intense as to be comparable
only to those of electric light. Indeed, this Oriental moonlight has
nothing of that quality of softness—the half-revealing, half-concealing
gleams, to which we are accustomed in the West. It is hard, clear,
metallic. It is a peculiarity, perhaps, of this Syrian atmosphere that
outlines appear so sharp that they lose, apparently, in solidity; in
what artists call "the round," so that the distant view of Jerusalem,
for example, has the effect of stage scenery, of an absolute lack of
perspective, which makes it extraordinarily difficult to compare
distances. Tonight, for instance, when a vista between the sand hills
allowed us to perceive the village of Jericho, it seemed inconceivable
that we should not reach it in a few minutes, and yet it was already
after eleven o'clock before the splash of our horses' feet in the water,
told us that we were crossing the brook Cherith.

At this point our soldier disappeared, flashed out of sight—his kind
intention, as we soon found, being to arouse the haj, the solitary
occupant of the hotel, and apprise him of our arrival. We had not to
wait long before the gates were opened and the barking of the dogs
exchanged for a kindly welcome. They were old friends, degenerate
descendants of some far-away mastiff, and still more distant collie, who
had made _mésalliances_ with some son or daughter of the soil, and left
traces of another race, much as we trace the Crusader in the blue eyes
and fair hair, of which specimens remain, here and there, in almost
every village in Syria.

There was naturally no fire, and dreams of tea were destined to
disappointment; but there were other combinations obtainable where water
was good and abundant, from which we were not averse. Have we not, some
of us, drunk "Ben Nevis" on Mount Lebanon and "Talisker" in glens other
than those of Skye? We had food with us, though our friends'
hospitalities had left us little appetite, and we made no
complaint—having water and towels—that sheets were not forthcoming. All
that lacked, in this semi-tropical atmosphere, was a sweet-scented
breeze from off the Belka.

We rose somewhat sadly next morning, and compared our twilight start
with that of nine days ago—sad, not as so often happens, from any
consciousness of anticipations unfulfilled, of hopes disappointed, but
only because those golden days were now buried with the past.

We rested for some time at the Good Samaritan Inn, and wrote some
picture postcards, to be stamped—strange anachronism—with the postmark
_Bon Samaritain_! Perhaps twopence was a large sum in New Testament
days, or it may be that good man had a long bill when he "came again";
or, still more likely, the progress of civilisation and of religion has
relegated hospitality and trustworthiness to the ignorant and savage
Bedu. Anyway, the shilling demanded seemed to us a good deal to pay for
a cup of tea and a biscuit.

We had no further adventure, and stopped but once, to photograph the
stone which Abraham brought on his back from some distant
place—variously stated as Hebron and Damascus. Whoever shall place his
back under that stone will be reinforced for carrying his own especial
burden. We looked back now with a sense of familiar friendship at those
grey hills, which had so lately been among the limitations of life, with
a realisation of widened knowledge and added sympathies, which, on our
return to the commonplace burdens of every day, should move us to
thankfulness and not to regret. Each evening now the sunset glow would
seem to smile to us from the faces of old friends, telling of a country
beyond—fairer, purer, it may be, than ours, but in its friendships, its
loves, its presentation of the beautiful, not very different from this.

We reached home in time for luncheon, and it is fair to record that the
"majnoon," grunting and breathless, was in at the death.



IN GALILEE AND SAMARIA



CHAPTER I

TO NABLUS


 "And then men go to Shiloh, where the ark of God with the relics were
 long kept ... and after men go to Shechem, formerly called Sichar ...
 and there is a fair and good city, called Neapolis, whence it is a
 day's journey to Jerusalem."

 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE, 1322


Those who have undertaken the education of the tourist have instilled
into him, among other irresponsible statements, the superstition that
one can travel in the Holy Land only during the three spring months of
the year, thus leaving the far more agreeable season from September to
March for the delectation of the serious student. This conviction, and
the absence from our party of pith helmets, white umbrellas, hats
invested with floating veils, blue spectacles, superfluous luggage,
broken-kneed horses, dragomans, and other impediments to comfort and
convenience, made possible the unsportsmanlike start which otherwise
might have caused a careless observer to mistake us for the "Personally
Conducted."

To drive in a carriage as far as El Bireh, sending our horses in
advance, was however a venial sin; for the ride to Nablûs was before us,
the first three or four hours being along a highroad of very moderate
interest; and, at best, we could not hope to get in before nightfall, in
spite of our start at six o'clock on a December morning.

We were a very attenuated party—only the Lady and the Doctor remaining
of our former group. We were reinforced, however, by the Artist, a lady
whose saddle-bags were weighty with cameras and sketching-blocks; and by
another learned doctor, who, on account of his association with a
celebrated guide-book, we designated "Baedeker." Sitting in a carriage
is not inspiriting, and even the sight of the Holy City in the sunrise,
viewed from Mount Scopas, as purple in the morning as it is pink in the
evening, failed to arouse our conversational powers. The tribe of
Benjamin welcomed us coldly on the broad plain assigned to it, and we
could think only with some dejection, of the bygone days when this
plucky little people could afford to lose twenty-five thousand men in a
single battle (Judges xx.), and when the six hundred who held out on
yonder hill of Ramah, repudiated by all their neighbours, possessed
themselves of wives in the good old Sabine fashion, and made a fresh
start in their frontier colony. Fifteen Moslem families now inherit the
traditions of former glory; and, indeed, the population hereabouts is
very thinly scattered. It is whispered that some of the villages have so
evil a reputation that the neighbouring districts now, as two or three
thousand years ago, are wont to say: "There shall not any of us give his
daughter unto Benjamin to wife"—the women already established there not
being desirable associates for those otherwise brought up.

At El Bireh our vehicle drew up in front of the khan or village inn,
where there is a good deal of accommodation for horses, and a single
small room for man. There we breakfasted, while our steeds were
collected and our saddle-bags dispersed. We had no baggage-horses, and
had all our personal belongings, as well as fodder for the beasts, to
distribute as best we could, so that we were unable to accede to the
characteristically Oriental request of a Greek priest that we would
relieve him and his horse of a part of their burden. We had been at El
Bireh before, and so did not linger to see the ruins of the very fine
Church and Hospice of the Knights of St John, which testify to its
former renown. The church, which is of the same ground-plan as that of
St Anne at Jerusalem and that of St Cleophas at Qoubeibeh (probably
Emmaus), had three naves, terminating in a triapsidal chancel. It was
rebuilt by the Crusaders, who had here a fortress and stronghold. The
tradition which it commemorates, is that it was here, a day's journey
from Jerusalem, that the child Jesus was missed by His parents, who
returned to seek Him. There is also a further tradition that it was here
that, seated under a palm-tree, the prophetess Deborah judged Israel.
The palm-trees remain, with many other signs of the fertility produced
by the presence of an excellent spring.

No horses were visible, although we were assured that they had left
Jerusalem at two o'clock—a statement we ventured to doubt when they were
at length produced, still perspiring, and obviously over-driven. The
Arab has little idea of time, and, indeed, Khalil's sense of veracity
never permits him to make a promise more definite than: _Iumkin
inshallah_—"Perhaps, if God will"; and his idea of futurity is limited
to _bookra_ or _ba'ad bookra_—literally, "to-morrow," or "after
to-morrow," but used as equivalent to "by-and-bye," near or remote. The
Arab has no compunction in keeping you waiting; but is equally
indifferent to losing time himself, and cheerfully sits down on your
doorstep until you are ready to give him attention. "Baedeker," much
experienced, had carefully selected his own saddle and bridle, sound
ones, the pride of their owner, who had naturally reserved them for the
decoration of his stables, and had sent the usual aggregation of
unrelated straps, patched leather, and rotten string. Our friend had a
fluent command of Arabic and some half-dozen other languages, and he
expressed his views on the manners and customs of the country at
considerable length to Abdallah, who was no further moved than to
ejaculate: _Ana baraf? Allah baraf_—"Do I know? God knows" when his
patron's breath was exhausted, and to pass the palm of his left hand
over the back of his right, the palm of his right over the back of his
left, in testimony of his personal innocence and irresponsibility.

The Lady was, of course, faithful to her old friend Sadowi; but the
horses all knew the Nablûs road, and, having no desire to better their
acquaintance, professed disinclination in various forms. Somewhere about
1900 it was decided to make a road between the capitals of Judæa and
Samaria—Jerusalem and Nablûs—and all the beasts of both towns are well
aware of the undertaking, which has been finished only as far as El
Bireh, the remainder, some nine hours' journey, being in various stages
of that incompleteness which is so infinitely more discouraging than no
road at all. As, however, we could see for some miles ahead of us what
bore the aspect of a _Sultaniyeh_, the Turkish equivalent for the king's
highway, some of us weakly proposed to take the carriage farther. This,
however, we found impossible, as the road at present is only to be
looked at—a wise provision, as we later discovered.

At Beitin, about half-an-hour farther, we passed from the territory of
Benjamin to that of Ephraim, from Judæa into Samaria, from the arid and
treeless Jerusalem district into the verdure, the colour, the obviously
greater prosperity which one finds anywhere else. Surely every traveller
who permits himself to think, unfettered by conventionality and
tradition, must continually ask himself why the Jewish people should
have taken for their capital a site which, however "beautiful for
situation," was, from the point of view of milk and honey, of vineyards
and olive-yards, of corn and wine, inferior to almost any other in
Palestine; where water must always have been scarce, and the hillsides
bare, though, undoubtedly, less arid and desolate than now; where the
winter winds and the summer siroccos were more pitiless than anywhere
else; where the soil was shallow, and the season of possible cultivation
short. So long as one is in the Holy City, under the spell of its
influences, of its associations, sacred and profane, its interests,
literary and archæological, its Babel of tongues, its cosmopolitan
population, its immigrants from every corner of the world, so long as
one hears the music of its place-names, as one feels the enchantment of
its moonlight, sunlight, starlight, of its colouring, of its life—so
long is one prepared to echo the vauntings of the Psalmist and the
prophets; but one has only to visit almost any other spot in Palestine
to ask, from the point of view of common-sense and the practical, why
Joshua did not settle in Shechem, or David in his native town of
Bethlehem; why Abraham was not satisfied with Hebron, or Solomon with
the plain of Sharon; or here at Beitin, assuming it to be Bethel, why
Samuel did not remain permanently, instead of returning from his annual
visits to his shelterless home, perched on the arid hilltop, north-west
of Jerusalem.

In the Middle Ages Bethel was located farther north, near Nablûs, but
later historians identify it with Beitin. It is a miserable village,
with only the remains of a crusading church—said to be on the site of
Jacob's vision, now a mosque—to recall past prosperity; but there is
abundance of water, and everything was looking green and fresh after the
early rains. The associations, Jacob's dream, the burial of Rebecca's
nurse, Jeroboam's golden calf, Elisha's bears, seemed to diminish in
historical perspective when we heard of a circle of stones of probable
religious significance and extreme antiquity, and very rare, west of the
Jordan; but time would not permit us to examine them. There is a fine
reservoir, 300 by 200 feet, which has a spring in the middle; and all
about were scattered hewn stones and remains of columns, which one is
free to fancy may have belonged, as is said, to the temple of the golden
calf. A little beyond lie the pleasant little villages of Jifna and Bir
es Zet, occupied by Christians, with churches belonging to both Greek
and Latin Catholics, some English missionaries, and a school supported
by the American Quakers of Ramallah, about an hour away, who, here and
elsewhere, have excellent institutions of a really useful and practical
kind.

Ruins on various hilltops remind us that the district was of importance
in Roman times, that Jifna was the capital of one of the ten toparchies
into which the Romans divided Judæa, and that, probably on account of
its importance as the great north road, several points of vantage were
fortified by the Crusaders—a stronghold known as Casale Saint Giles,
after Count Raymond of Saint Giles, having its special significance for
the English.

The Lady was particularly interested in a hill lying to the south, as
being associated with a piece of folklore of which a close variant is
found in the Outer Hebrides. An inhabitant of Jifna, returning home from
fulfilling his Passover obligations in Jerusalem, was recounting the
wonders which had lately taken place in the Holy City—the life and death
of Jesus of Nazareth. His friends were quite disposed to believe in the
miracles of healing related, but when he concluded with the account of
the Resurrection his wife, who was plucking a fowl for supper, observed:
"Your story is just as probable as that this cock should fly out of my
hands and escape"; upon which the bird returned to life, and, flying
through the door of the house, alighted upon the opposite hill, which is
called _Jebel ed deek_—Hill of the Cock—to this day (_cf._
Goodrich-Freer "Outer Isles," Chap. x.). According to some, the village
of Et-tayyibeh, which fronted us as we left Beitin, is "the city called
Ephraim," where Jesus retired after the miracle of the raising of
Lazarus, so that something of His fame was, perhaps, already known in
the neighbourhood.

Truly, the tribe of Ephraim had a beautiful inheritance! All the way we
go are signs of a rich abundance such as our eyes are little accustomed
to; fig-trees, whose wide-spreading branches sweep the ground;
olive-trees, whereof the young shoots, the biblical "olive branches,"
have grown into veritable individual trees, and each hoary veteran
stands king in a little grove of his own kindred. In a narrow valley,
where there is only just room for the new road above the bed of what
must be at times a torrent, we noticed many Jewish tombs cut into the
rocks on our left, and stopped to examine one, of more elaborate
workmanship than the others, having the seven-branched candlestick
sharply cut into the rock to the left of the entrance, three pairs of
branches turning upward and four downward.

Two of the party turned aside to visit the village of Seilun, lying
about half-an-hour east of the road—a scene of manifold interest. The
view alone is worth the détour, affording the first glimpse of Hermon,
the great landmark of Palestine and Syria—a chain extending for about
twenty miles, and averaging over 9000 feet in height. The identification
of Seilun with Shiloh,[1] at once brings to the mind a crowd of
associations—the resting-place, from the time of Joshua to that of
Solomon, of the Ark of the Covenant; the scene of the prayer of Hannah,
and of the dedication of Samuel; of the life and tragic death of Eli; of
the visit, in disguise, of the wife of Jeroboam.

Nothing is more tiresome than the conventionality which obliges a
tourist, at sight of a bat or an owl, to recall some quotation or apply
a prophecy, as if bats and owls were never found unannounced by the
minor prophets; but the utter desolation of Seilun, ruined even in the
time of St Jerome, can hardly fail to remind the spectator of the words
in Jeremiah, although we do not know the nature of the catastrophe
referred to: "Go ye now unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I set
My name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My
people Israel." The mound is covered with débris of buildings, hewn
stones, broken columns, and fragments of carving. One of the more
complete among the ruins is evidently built of fragments from some
earlier structure, the lintel of the door, now fallen, being a monolith
covered with beautiful sculpture. The main building, a mediæval fortress
church, is some 33 feet square, the roof having been supported by four
columns with Corinthian capitals. A small mosque has been added on the
east side at some later period, and is known as _Jâmi' el Arba' in_—the
forty companions of the Prophet. These forty saints turn up in various
forms in Palestine—Jewish, Christian, and Moslem; and at Ramleh
(Arimathea, probably) the same tower has done service in honour both of
the forty Christian martyrs and of the forty companions of the Prophet.
An exceedingly realistic picture in the Armenian cathedral at Jerusalem
supplies full details of the martyrdom. Upon Mount Carmel we have a
sacred grove known as "the trees of the forty" (_i.e._ martyrs), and
near Nablûs we passed a chapel known as Rijal el-'Amud—"Men of the
Columns"—the burial-place of forty Jewish prophets. The new road came to
an end at the thirty-fifth kilometre, just after the separation of our
party. It had passed through various stages illustrative of the history
of road-making, and had lately been reduced to the merest anatomy,
wholly destitute of covering. It now reverted to the piles of rocks
which, under the name of roads, are to be so carefully avoided in the
East—at best resembling the bed of a mountain torrent, but more often
the wreck of a Yorkshire wall. The riders naturally made their way
across the nearest ploughed fields, and finally, by a precipitous
descent, found themselves in the small plain or wide valley of the
Lubban, where a busy scene presented itself. In a corner of the
triangular plain, or at the mouth of the valley, as one prefers to
regard it, an abundant spring takes its rise beside the ruins of an
ancient khan, and here large numbers of fellahin and Bedu had paused to
water their cattle, horses, and camels. Here our party reunited once
more, and here we lunched, to the great amusement of a large audience,
who were particularly entertained with our spirit-lamps. A testimony to
the greater fertility of this district was afforded by the immense
flocks of birds passing over our heads eastwards, probably to the
newly-sown fields, and by the rooks following the plough.

It was after three o'clock before we were again on our way, and the
twilight soon overtook us, although we did our best to push on, warned
of a very bad descent before we should reach the great plain framed by
the hills of Samaria. Just below this descent, and before coming into
the Plain of El-Makhna, we met the other end of the new road coming out
from Nablûs to meet that from Jerusalem. We avoided it with much care,
grateful to the whiteness of its newly-macadamised surface for warning
us, in the darkness, where not to go. For something like three hours the
great hills of Ebal and Gerizim loomed vast before us; while far away we
knew the great snow crown of Hermon must be looking down upon us; but we
had little pleasure in our ride, for the darkness had already descended,
and from lack of interest we were all tired. Even the Arab servants,
Khalil and Abdallah, did not talk, and only from time to time broke out
into song. So many persons of all kinds must traverse this road from
Jerusalem to Nablûs, and so few but tourists must trouble themselves to
carry tents, that one wonders someone does not establish a decent khan
to serve as half-way house in the twelve or thirteen hours' ride—though
it might be difficult to say where, as the Christian villages of Bir es
Zet and Jifna occur too early in the day's march from Jerusalem.
However, when the new road is once opened, some of the neighbouring
villages, El Lubban, for instance, may send out feelers in the direction
of the highway of commerce.

The stars, of a brightness of which we know nothing in the West, came
out suddenly, as if a curtain had been withdrawn, not piercing the
darkness one by one, as with us; and soon a radiant moon looked over the
top of the great screen of mountains on our left; and when, by-and-bye,
we turned, somewhat suddenly, west, we had sufficient light to be
conscious of the great hills of Ebal and Gerizim on either hand, and to
catch a glimpse of the enclosure around Joseph's Tomb and, a little
farther on, Jacob's Well. Our horses, who had been dejected and
uninterested all day, seemed to be aware that the worst was over, and,
suddenly reviving, were soon clattering over the cobble-stones of
Nablûs. At every turn we expected to be stopped by a demand for our
teskerys (passports), or some other formality, as in no town in
Palestine is the traveller so subject to demands for backsheesh as here,
and it was with some surprise, as well as relief, that we found
ourselves in the spacious reception-room of the convent. By a kindly
provision of the patriarchate in Jerusalem, here and at certain other
places, one can obtain very comfortable sleeping accommodation and the
means of preparing food.

 [1] One can hardly feel doubt as to the identification, the biblical
 description being so very exact: "Shiloh, which is on the north side of
 Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to
 Shechem [_i.e._ Nablûs] and on the south of Lebonah [_i.e._ Lubban]."



CHAPTER II

TO SAMARIA

 "What these rites [_i.e._ of the Samaritans] are, I could not
 certainly learn, but that their religion consists in the adoration of a
 calf, as the Jews give out, seems to have more of spite than of truth
 in it."—HENRY MAUNDRELL, 1697


We rose early next morning, in order to view the sights of Nablûs, and
returned in a couple of hours, in entire sympathy with the desire of the
Jews to have no dealings with the Samaritans—not that we found the Jews
themselves particularly attractive, for they are here of that type of
feature, so rarely seen in the East, which we habitually associate with
a Cockney accent.

The town lies in a long, narrow streak between Ebal and Gerizim, the
sole pass in the central mountain range of Palestine, the farthest north
of the line of cities—Shechem, Shiloh, Bethel, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and
Hebron—long commercially important, and, from the abundance of water and
surrounding fertility, capable of becoming what it perhaps once was—a
really beautiful city. It contains the ruins of many churches, now all
converted into mosques; one, known as the Great Mosque, having been
originally built by Justinian, and restored in 1167 by the canons of the
Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, with much resemblance to their own church.
Another mosque of interest, probably originally a hospital of the
Templars, is now devoted to the lepers, who here present a miserable
spectacle, practically uncared for, in striking contrast to all that is
done for them in Jerusalem, where there are two lepers' homes—one
supported by the Government, and nursed by the Sœurs de Charité; the
other, and larger, by the German Moravians.

From the aspect of the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants one may gather
that the soap produced in fifteen factories is mainly an article of
export. The Moslem population, which amounts to over 20,000, is more
prosperous in appearance; and, indeed, Nablûs is a somewhat thriving
centre of trade in wool and cotton. There are about 700 Christians,
mainly of the Greek Church. The Franciscans, as well as the Jerusalem
patriarchate, have churches and schools; and there is a small Protestant
community, now in the hands of the C.M.S., originally founded, on very
different lines, by Bowen, afterwards Bishop of Sierra Leone, who was a
practical philanthropist and who established looms, gave technical
instruction in various arts, instilled cleanliness and sanitation, and
taught his flock to earn an honest living; after which, by degrees, and
having spent himself and his substance, he gave them religious
instruction. The Moslems have a girls' school and college, and several
elementary schools.

We picked our way to the Jewish quarter through heaps of decaying
vegetable matter and along roofed passages, dark as a cellar, and where
only in the middle could one walk upright, into the Samaritan
settlement, which was decidedly cleaner and more airy, but where the
inhabitants, spoilt by the tourists, were clamorous for backsheesh. At
every step we were tormented by would-be vendors of antiques, mainly
cufic coins, the very school children bringing torn pages from their
copy-books for sale to the Frenjy who were known, by experience, to be
ready to buy, irrespective of the value of the articles of commerce. As
a matter of fact, we did buy, from a member of the high priest's family,
an Arabic seal, a silver medal of some Roman Catholic community, and
some models of the rolls of the Law ingeniously made out of kerosene
tins! What Palestine did before Russia and Asia Minor sent her kerosene
in cubical tins, known as "gas-boxes," it is difficult to imagine—not on
account of the "gas," which is, however, cheap and good, but on account
of the tins, which are, in their natural state, the water-cans,
flower-boxes, general receptacles, and even wine and spirit barrels, for
every household. With slight additions and a little manipulation they
become garden watering-pans, dust-pans, sieves, culinary vessels of
various kinds, lamps, lamp-shades, reflectors, stoves, baths, musical
instruments, spoons, forks, and brush handles. They serve the
errand-boys for baskets, and the children for toys; they supply material
for buildings, from a dog-kennel or stable up to an entire suburb of
Jerusalem, known as the Box Colony—the houses, constructed out of
miscellaneous materials, being entirely faced with "gas-tins"; they are
raw material for the tinsmith, the gunsmith, and, in some degree, for
the leather trade, as we found traces of them in our harness. And here,
in Nablûs, they turned up afresh, effectively modelled into the likeness
of some of the oldest bookbinding in the world.

We found ourselves, finally, in a small square or court inhabited by the
Samaritan community, where climbing a few stairs, we reached a sort of
balcony, in which a score of children were receiving instruction, their
feet tucked up in front of them, their shoes piled together in the
doorway. We followed two good-looking young men into a small,
whitewashed room, the floor of which was covered with matting, and which
contained, for all furniture, a sort of reading-stand, upon which were
placed, for our inspection, the scrolls of the Law. Of course, we did
not see the famous Samaritan Codex—who does?—but that exhibited was of
sufficiently venerable appearance to appeal to our imagination, and, in
a certain sense, to our reverence. It was soiled and worn, in the part
exposed, from the frequent handling and kissing of many generations; and
the elaborate, gilt cylinders, so often portrayed, might be, for all we
knew, of considerable antiquity, although Sir George Grove, who
described then nearly fifty years ago, concluded, after careful and
expert examination, that the oldest could not claim to be earlier that
the fifteenth century. Even had we been privileged to see the celebrated
Codex itself we should not have believed that it was written by Abisha,
the son of Phinehas, nor even—the alternative tradition—by Manasseh, the
high priest in the time of Ezra. The Samaritans keep all the Jewish
festivals, but sacrifice only at the Passover. They ignore all the
traditional literature, and teach only the Pentateuch, and, according to
many travellers' tales, and even a popular guide-book, the "Book of
Joshua," which, however, is not a sacred volume but a mediæval MS.,
written in Arabic, with proper names in Samaritan, and describing the
adventures of their race from Moses to Alexander. This, with a few
prayers and hymns, constitutes all their literature.

No one can feel indifferent to this little community, "sent to Coventry"
some two thousand five hundred years ago, when the Jews refused to allow
them to share in the rebuilding of the Temple on the ground that they
were mere colonists, destitute of genealogy, and that no one knew who
they were, or where they came from. No wonder that the Samaritans, under
the circumstances, should have set up rival Holy Places, like the Greeks
and Latins, respectively, in Jerusalem to-day. Here they are still,
however, on the same spot; while the Jews, who despised them as a
mushroom population, are wanderers over the face of the earth. They are
said to be decreasing in numbers, and amount now to only about one
hundred and sixty. Benjamin of Tudela estimated them in the twelfth
century as only one hundred in Nablûs; but in those days they had
adherents in Ascalon, Cæsarea, and Damascus—amounting to one thousand in
all. Now, this is their only settlement; the little, whitewashed
synagogue the sole outward and visible sign of their race, their faith,
and even their dialect, for in the ordinary affairs of life they use
Arabic.

The office of high priest is hereditary in the tribe of Levi, and it is
interesting to note that he holds, in addition, the secular dignity of
president of the community, and is, moreover, one of the district
authorities. Jerusalem has some personal acquaintance with his son and
heir-apparent, who makes occasional visits to the Holy City for various
purposes, including the sale of manuscripts, not, perhaps, quite
convincing as to their antiquity or value; but the scion of a high
priest must live, even if the methods should bring him occasionally
within the arm of the Law. The official stipend is derived from tithes
paid by the faithful, who, unfortunately, have little to tithe.

Their festivals have been often described; and the Samaritan Passover
has become a commonplace of tourists, though, happily, there are still
some to whom the slaughter and disembowelling of half-a-dozen poor
little lambs, which have been tamed and kept as domestic pets, is not a
pleasing sight at close quarters. One feels especially thankful for the
Gospel dispensation on reading in the twentieth century such details as
the following:—"Whilst the six lambs were thus lying together, with
their blood streaming from them, and in their last convulsive struggles,
the young _shochetim_ (five lads, who acted as butchers) dipped their
fingers in the blood, and marked a spot on the foreheads and noses of
the children. The same was done to some of the females."

Importunate Jews and Samaritans followed us back to the convent, their
numbers increased by inquisitive Moslems coming to see the Frenjys
fleeced, and a few especially impudent girls, who demanded backsheesh on
the ground that they "sat down in the English school." We speedily
convinced the entire crowd that we were not tourists, much to the
satisfaction of the officers of the convent, who suffer much from the
visitors of their guests.

"Baedeker" was on business, and we were obliged to postpone, to some
future occasion, several visits we would have gladly paid; above all,
the ascent of Mount Ebal, whence one has a view practically over the
whole of Palestine—a country, be it remembered, however, containing no
more square miles than that of Wales. Gerizim is, historically, the more
famous of the two, and that most frequented, as by far the easier climb;
but a view from Carmel to Jaffa, from the Mediterranean to the mountains
of Moab, would have been to some of us more suggestive, and of deeper
significance, than the Moslem wely alleged to contain the skull of St
John the Baptist, or even the church, possibly of the Justinian period,
which may be on the site of the Temple of Gerizim destroyed by Hyrcanus,
rival to that at Jerusalem. At Jacob's Well also we would have willingly
lingered, grateful to Professor G. A. Smith for leaving us still in
possession of the traditional site, which he maintains against many
opponents. ("Historical Geography," xviii.) Another site offered for
consideration, as that where Abraham prepared for the sacrifice of
Isaac, we summarily condemned without trial. Some of us had ridden to
Beersheba, which we knew to be a good sixteen hours' ride south of
Jerusalem, Nablûs being equally a good twelve hours' north, and we
failed to understand how an old man and a boy, with an ass heavily
burdened, could have made the journey on foot in a period of less than
three days! The acoustical properties of the valley between the two
mountains need astonish no one who has seen the position, or indeed many
other places in Palestine, where the nature of the limestone formation,
the innumerable caves, and the intense clearness of the atmosphere,
carry sound to inconceivable distances, and many times we have carried
on conversation with persons visible only as a distant speck. On one
occasion the Lady, who had left the Artist sketching on some rising
ground, and had herself crossed a valley, and climbed a Tell beyond,
mindful, though somewhat incredulous, of traditions on the subject,
addressed her friend, whose whereabouts she knew, but who otherwise was
too distant to be easily visible. To her intense surprise she was
promptly answered, and the two were able to carry on conversation
without even raising the voice.

We were soon on our way north, anxious to have time to visit Sebaste,
the city of Samaria, on our way to Jenin, our next halting-place for the
night. The scenery of this district, if pleasing, is as unexciting as
the county of Yorkshire. There are bare spaces, rocky and sterile,
sloping down into fertile plains. There are pleasant fields and fruitful
gardens, and we gathered our first anemones of the season, scarlet and
purple and white, and noted that the mandrakes were coming into
bloom—rich, compact masses of violet in their crumpled, primrose-like
leaves. Here and there were trickling rills, which, although the season
was dry and the early rains had been a disappointment, had enough life
left in them to produce bright ribbons of verdure across the plains,
which opened out amid detached hills to right and left. Not only the
familiar olive-trees scattered over wide tracts of land, but oaks and
carobs, and even gardens of fruit-trees—apricots, pears, apples—give to
the scenery a homelike air, which to our eyes, long used to the sepias
and vandyke-browns of Judæa, was reposeful and refreshing.

We were able to appreciate the observation of Professor G. A. Smith
(_op. cit._ Chap. xvi.), that Samaria is the scene of all the long
drives of Old Testament history—a fact due to the openness of the
country, and the possibility of practicable roads passing among, rather
than over, the mountains. It was here that Ahab raced the rain-storm
coming up from the Mediterranean—well do we know the tearing, raging
"latter rains" of Palestine; here that Jehu drove furiously; here that
Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot to visit Elisha; here
that Jehu gave a lift to Jehonadab, the son of Rechab; here that Ahab,
who had at least the virtue of courage, was propped up to lead the
battle while his life-blood streamed into the midst of his chariot, to
be licked by the dogs when it was washed in the pool at Sebaste, whither
we were hastening in the morning sunshine.

We passed through two or three villages, each with its gardens and
springs, and noted the beauty of the women—a rare sight here, where a
woman is a grandmother before thirty and a withered hag at thirty-five.
They are more graceful, more shapely of limb, with better-set heads than
in Judæa, where a woman's comeliness is measured by weight, especially
among the so-called beauties of Bethlehem. We turned out of a
well-wooded valley into a wide basin, where a rounded hill, some 300
feet high, rose suddenly in front of us, like an island in a lake,
which, in days when it was crowned with a stately city of Greek
architecture, and surrounded at the base by a noble colonnade nearly
2000 yards in length, must have been, indeed, an imposing spectacle.

Few spots in the whole of Palestine are possessed of associations more
varied and interesting than those of Sebaste, though its history may be
less familiar than that of other cities. Always strategically important,
protected by mountains on three sides, looking clear out to the
Mediterranean on the fourth, one cannot wonder that Omri should have
recognised its value as a stronghold; nor that it should have withstood
several prolonged sieges, one lasting until one mother said to another:
"Give thy son that we may eat him to-day, and we will eat my son
to-morrow," and till an ass's head was sold for fourscore shekels. It
must have been down below, in the plain across which we are riding, that
a curiously dramatic scene was enacted when the lepers, obliged, even in
times of siege, to sit in the gate, argued among themselves that they
might as well die by the hand of the enemy, with a chance of food, as
sit where they were, with the certainty of starvation—and so ventured
into the camp of the Syrians, to find that an aural hallucination of the
sound of horses and chariots had caused their flight, so that the poor
pariahs "went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence
silver and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and
entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid
it." Even the Assyrians blockaded Samaria for three years before they
could possess it. Alexander the Great, Ptolemy Lagos, John Hyrcanus—each
in turn invested this little hill rising before us, so green and smiling
in the midday sunshine, always an enviable possession. Picture after
picture rose before our minds as we rode across the fertile plain, but
none more vivid than that of the days of its Greek grace, its Roman
luxury, as interpreted by Herod, who named it Sebaste—Greek for
Augusta—in honour of his patron, Augustus, who had bestowed upon him the
site of the city demolished by Hyrcanus over a century before, though to
some degree restored by Gabinius, the successor of Pompey.

Herod it was, who raised the colonnades and gateways which we were
approaching; who built a city, according to Josephus, two miles and a
half in circumference; who beautified it with palace and theatre and
hippodrome; who made it a recruiting centre whence his veterans could
collect mercenary troops; who substituted the worship of Cæsar for the
worship of Baal, in a temple, whereof the ruins lie a few score yards
beyond those of the great Gothic cathedral of the Crusaders, now turned
into a mosque—the site having been originally chosen as that of a
basilica, in honour of the tradition that the body of St John the
Baptist was here buried, a tradition dating, at least, from St Jerome.
The tombs of Obadiah and Elisha are also shown in the same rock-hewn
chamber.

Well might Isaiah call such a spot "The pride of Ephraim, the flower of
his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley!" and when,
in addition to all the gifts of Nature, we add all that wealth and art
could command, we cannot help reflecting, as on a score of occasions
during our journey, here and in Moab, upon the persistent fashion in
which history and fact are falsified by conventionality. The literature
and art of a thousand years, the teaching of one's childhood, the wilful
misapprehension of modern travellers, the conventional treatment of
works of devotion, have combined to impress a great number of sincere
and devout persons with the general idea that the surroundings of our
Lord somewhat resembled those of a Highland fishing village; whereas—in
Jerusalem, in Jericho, along the shores of Gennesaret, in Tyre and
Sidon, in Cæsarea Philippi, in the cities of the Decapolis, and here in
Sebaste—His eyes must have rested upon architecture and sculpture which,
even in decay and ruin, are still a revelation of beauty to such as
ourselves, accustomed to the ineffectiveness of the Thames Embankment
and the trivialities of Trafalgar Square. Here in this little country of
Palestine, two thousand years ago, were palaces and fortresses, theatres
and hippodromes, temples, baths, colonnades, porticos, triumphal arches,
forums, to which Europe, in this twentieth century, with all her boasted
science, her educated "masses," her "art for the million," is at least
wise enough to attempt no rivalry. In a Bedawin tent we may recreate the
life of the patriarchs, and realise that Abraham was but a wealthy
shech; in many a fellah village we may find such kings as the thirty-two
who reinforced Benhadad; we may find everywhere types of half the
characters, of most of the manners and customs, of the New or Old
Testaments. The everlasting hills remain; the stars, as the sand of the
sea, still shine out in millions, which in the West the ordinary
observer can never look upon; the flowers spring up for us as for
Solomon; the patient beasts are but intermittently remembered now as in
Holy Writ; the dog is still the victim and not the friend of man; the
sheep follow their shepherd—at his voice they separate from the goats;
the poor are always with us—but only a strong effort of imagination,
only familiarity with traditions of classic art and luxury, can revive
for us the glory of the cities, "over whose acres walked those blessed
feet."

On this subject at least may we here enlarge our notions, and "divest
our mind of cant!" May we realise something of the glory of the
Temptation-vision of our Lord, something of the æsthetic beauty over
which He, beholding, wept; may imagine somewhat of the stones and the
buildings which were there; may conceive the contrast between the
cave-stable of Bethlehem and Herodium, the castle of the Herods, which
frowned down upon the Jewish village; between the little group which
surrounded the Master when He paused to heal the blind beggars of
Jericho, and the sensuous beauty of the city, with its subtropical
vegetation, and its luxurious winter homes.

Even Jerash, more perfect in its remains, impressed us less than
Sebaste, so unique as to beauty and dignity of position. The mosque,
although rich in fragments of what must have been a grand cathedral in
the days when Sebaste was a bishopric—the title is still owned by the
Greek Church—has been too recently restored, after destruction by fire,
to be very interesting. Our attention was, in fact, somewhat diverted by
some handsome Arab boys playing unmitigated hockey within the precincts.
On the north sides are the outlines of a square fortress, with corner
towers, probably a home of the knights of St John. Mutilated remains of
the Maltese cross are still to be traced on many of the stones scattered
about Sebaste. M. de Vogüe, who seems to have been the first to show, in
plan, a restoration of the buildings, considers that, next to the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre, this was the most important reconstruction of
crusading times. The length is almost 165 feet, the breadth 75. The
decoration of the capitals is of the beautiful palm pattern, the arches
of the apse are pointed.

"Baedeker," to whom all this was already familiar, proceeded with the
horses to the top of the hill to superintend the servants' preparation
for luncheon, as time was precious. We found him, half-an-hour later,
sitting in the midst of a group of shechs—young men, women, and children
hovering in the background. With their usual absorbent interest in
politics—the greater for the rarity of its gratification—they had
assembled to hear the latest news, and had worked backwards from the new
railway and the troubles in Macedonia—which had called into service Arab
soldiery from all parts of Palestine, and had been the excuse for
special taxation—to the Boer War, the Armenian question, and the visit
to Palestine of the German Emperor,—the great epoch of the modern
history of Syria—the occasion of new buildings, new roads, new uniforms,
new trade, and a general cleaning-up along the line of route, with which
only the orders issued during the cholera scare of 1903 could in any
degree be compared.

With the usual courtesy of the Moslem Oriental, so different from the
unabashed curiosity of Europeans and the Europeanised, they withdrew
when we made preparations for food, the two or three actually engaged in
conversation too important to interrupt, emphasising the occasion for
discretion, by throwing stones at others who approached too closely.
Some children, many of singular beauty, retired behind a neighbouring
wall, and for some time lacked courage to pick up the dainties we threw
to them. When we made our final move numbers came up to offer coins,
fragments of carving and specimens of carnelian, lapis-lazuli, and
crystal. One especial treasure was an abominable bracelet, of the type
of art sold at exhibitions, and lost—to her advantage—by some
tourist—not, fortunately, that many tourists visit Sebaste, as was shown
by the superior manners of the people and the absence of demand for
backsheesh. The village is entirely Moslem, and all behaved with
self-respecting dignity, if we except, perhaps, one boy who pulled
gently at the Doctor's blond locks, to see if they grew upon his head;
and some men who, greatly interested in our spirit-lamps, put a match to
the weeds upon which we emptied one before packing, with a childish
pleasure in, as he said, "setting fire to water." One of the many cheap
conveniences of this country is the fact that one gets an imperial pint
of spirits of wine—no miserable "methylated" substitute—for about
eightpence; but we have never found it in a Moslem village, where the
use of alcohol is, of course, forbidden by religion. With much
hesitation and politeness some of the men asked leave to examine a small
revolver belonging to one of the party, which excited great admiration,
the firearms of the country places being often of a very primitive
description, sometimes of such a size that one wonders how they are
carried. It is very rare, however, to meet an Arab, beyond the towns,
who is not fully armed, even if his weapon be a flintlock six feet in
length. It was a curious conjunction of the new and the old, when Khalil
stopped a shepherd one day to ask for a light for his cigarette, a
dainty Egyptian, which we had given him. The peasant produced a piece of
a table-knife, picked up a flint off the roadside, tore a scrap of blue
cotton from his ragged garment, and in an instant Khalil was made happy
as only tobacco in any form could make him.

A self-constituted guide dispersed the crowd, and conducted us round the
hill, that we might more closely observe the colonnade, some 20 yards
wide, and originally over 1800 yards long. All the columns have lost
their capitals and architraves, but are still 16 feet high, some being
monoliths. Besides, perhaps, over a hundred still standing, columns and
fragments of columns are scattered in all directions—a lesson in the
history of Tells and the exaltation of the valleys of Palestine. Many
were still on the surface of the ground, still more were half buried, of
others only the projecting stones of the base remained visible; while
here and there the observant, or rather, perhaps, the experienced, eye,
could perceive by the contour of the ground that hidden treasure of
sculpture lay concealed. The soil is deep, and, for the most part,
cultivated; for the hill of Sebaste is no rocky scarp, and in ten years
much of all this will have disappeared. A separate mound, a little away
to the west, is said by some to be the site of Ahab's ivory palace, and
might repay exploration. Happily, the Germans seem able to obtain
firmans at will, having probably inspired confidence, even in a
suspicious Government, by the liberality and thoroughness of their
excavations.

We longed to linger among so much that was beautiful both in art and
nature—the green hill sloping gently to the wooded plain, the hills
eight miles away opening towards the west, where the intensely blue
waters of the Mediterranean, though distant a score of miles, sparkled
gaily in the sunshine. Little wonder that the sun-worshipping peoples
should have here erected temples to the great god, whose majesty was
shown to them in the smile of the sea and the glory of the sunset!
Little wonder that the great Syrian princess, Jezebel, should have
rejoiced in the ivory palace looking across to the northern shore she
had known in her childhood's home.

One parts so reluctantly from what is beautiful that some of us resented
almost angrily a reminder that it was possibly at yonder gateway that
the dogs licked up the blood of Ahab; that on this smiling plain Jezebel
slew the prophets of Jehovah; and Jehu, with still greater brutality,
the priests of Baal and the family of the king; that here also Herod
murdered Mariamne, strangled his sons, and, possibly, beheaded John the
Baptist.[2]

Our last visit was to the hippodrome, lying in a bay of the hill to the
north-east—a fine natural position for such a purpose (480 by 60 yards).
Many fragments of columns yet remain, apparently belonging to this noble
circus, but which some have alleged to belong to a second colonnade at
right angles to the first, such as we saw at Jerash. Finally, as we
descended to the bottom of the valley to the north-east, we passed
another plateau, strewn with massive columns, but a few of which remain
upright, probably the forum of the Herodian city, and noted here and
there some fine sarcophagi. A ride of four and a half hours was still
before us, some of which was over paths of a nature to be traversed, if
possible, by daylight, and we might not linger.

 [2] Another tradition, more probable, though with less dramatic
 fitness, places the scene of the execution at Machærus, east of the
 Dead Sea.



CHAPTER III

TO TAANAK AND MEGIDDO

 "Consider with me that the individual existence is a rope which
 stretches from the infinite to the infinite, and has no end, and no
 commencement, neither is it capable of being broken. This rope, passing
 as it does through all places, suffers strange accidents."


For the first fifty minutes our road lay, for the most part, upward,
constantly offering glorious views, especially in retrospect, and then,
after crossing a green and wooded plateau, we began once more to descend
to the north-east, and at the village of Jeba, after passing through a
pleasant district, well covered with fruit gardens, found ourselves,
about an hour later, once more on the ordinary highroad from Nablûs to
Jenin. We looked with interest at the village of Sânûr, with its ruined
fortress, monument to "Some village Hampden that with dauntless breast
The petty tyrant of his fields withstood," some eighty years ago. The
petty tyrant was the Pasha of Acre, who besieged, and with difficulty
captured, the fortress manned by the independent villagers, whose
courage must have impressed the authorities, for they had the cowardice
to destroy the fortification entirely. A little farther on we rode
across a low plain which resembled the bed of a large lake, perfect in
islands and peninsulas, and which bore the descriptive name of the
Meadow of Sinking In—_Merj-el-Gharak_. Fortunately for us it was fairly
dry, and we were able to press forward over its green surface, urged on
by "Baedeker," who assured us of two bad descents which would be trying
to the nerves and, what mattered more, the riding powers of the Artist,
who was somewhat inexperienced in horsemanship, and, on the theory that
December was a cold month, so encumbered with clothing that she had no
seat whatever, and who having been unwillingly persuaded to emulate the
Lady's habit of riding _en cavalier_ courageously faced difficulties by
standing in her stirrups and balancing herself upon the pommels. Of
course, the stirrup straps broke at frequent intervals, not having
adapted themselves to their new uses; but the accident was soon
repaired, and the interval of repose was good for the horse, happily as
gentle as a sheep, but who suffered also from the unwonted arrangement.

Fortunately, nothing more serious occurred to detain us as we resisted
the temptation to turn aside to inspect Dôtân, probably the Dothan where
poor little Joseph, after passing through Shechem, fell into the hands
of the Midianites, who carried him into Egypt. Nablûs, as we have seen,
being the only pass through the mountain range of Central Palestine, and
Samaria being an open country of good roads, this district must have
been the great highway from north to south, from the coast to the
Jordan, from Europe and Asia to Africa. It is easy enough to imagine the
caravan of Midianites winding southward along yonder ridge, laden with
spices for embalming, and visible from far by the sons of Jacob as they
sat about the well at the foot of the hill, now crowned with terebinths,
and well aware that the travellers would probably turn aside for water.
Many ancient, empty, bell-shaped cisterns are to be found in this
district such as that into which Joseph was let down.

We surmounted a stony ridge, where the path was in such good condition
(not being slippery, as we had feared, after the early rains) as to give
us confidence in regard to the worse which was to come, but which, in
fact, turned out to be all the better for such dampness as there was, as
the horses were less liable to slip on the polished rocks; and, indeed,
these creatures are as surefooted as donkeys.

We were glad that the daylight sufficed to show us, as we descended into
a narrow valley, before reaching the village of Kubâtîyeh, a sacred tree
adorned with rags, standing by the wayside on our right—the first we had
seen on our journey, though we afterwards met with many, especially in
Galilee.

Such trees exist all over the country, both east and west of the Jordan,
except where the presence of Europeans has taught the people to disguise
their beliefs, which even then, however, appear in other forms; as, for
example, in Jerusalem, where the faithful tie rags to the framework of
windows in the mosque and elsewhere, instead of, as here, in the Temple
of Nature. The theory of such veneration seems to be much the same as
that of the Old Testament saints, who left stones at Bethel, and
Ebenezer, on the banks of the Jordan, and so on, "which remain there,"
say the chroniclers, "to this day"—evidently indicating that they are a
monument to record, a witness to testify, an outward and visible sign to
excite inquiry, to serve as evidence of some special visit, to
demonstrate to God and man that such an one was there in person, from
such and such motives, and with such and such intentions.

The tree itself, with its quaint decorations, torn from the apparel of
the faithful, is not always the direct object of veneration. It is often
accompanied by a wely or grave of a saint, and though at times the cause
of the selection of such a place of interment, is sometimes only the
accidental consequence, having grown up beside the tomb; whence it is
held to be under the saint's protection, just as other objects—ploughs,
timber, grain, and vessels of various kinds—are left there, safe from
thieves, Christian or Moslem. Sometimes such a wely is surrounded by a
whole grove of trees, which may be sacred for either reason, and may be
the cause or effect of the presence of the saint. We always behold them
with satisfaction, as assuring the continuance of vegetation here and
there, which would otherwise, at least in Judæa, inevitably be destroyed.

Another use of such a spot is for the cure of diseases. This may be by
means of self-suggestion, the disease being transferred to the tree with
the fragment of the dress of the patient, making much the same demands
upon the imagination as the Christian science, the hypnotic suggestion,
the bread-pill, of modern therapeutics. Another method of cure—also a
question of the dominance of mind over matter—is that of taking from the
tree the morsels attached to it, which are then worn like the scapulars
from Lourdes or St Winifred's, just as, long ago, the sick carried from
St Paul "handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them,
and the evil spirits went out." Truly, there is nothing new under the
sun! Often, especially on Thursdays, the eve of the Moslem Sabbath,
these trees have been seen in flames, which, however, do them no injury,
just as Moses saw "the bush which burned and was not consumed."
Sometimes voices speak in them, just as David waited for "the sound of
the going in the mulberry-trees." Sometimes they are held sacred as
having served as resting-place for some holy man, just as the oak of
Abraham at Hebron is, as such, still a place of pilgrimage for
Christian, Moslem, and Jew.

We could ascertain nothing concerning the history of the sacred tree of
Kubâtîyeh; and, indeed, it is but rarely that the people are able to
relate the history of their shrines, although their faith in them must
be strong, as it suffices, as we have seen, for the protection of
articles deposited there for safe-keeping. Men—Christians or
Moslems—ready to swear anything by the Almighty, will hesitate at a
false oath by the shrine of a saint. In some places they hang fragments
of meat upon the trees, just as the Israelites offered "shewbread," and
Jotham talked of "the wine which cheereth God," the anthropomorphic
conception of the Deity being nearly as strong now as when the
Israelites were still wanderers in the desert. Such ideas are racial
rather than religious. Professor Curtiss ("Primitive Semitic Religion
To-Day") demonstrates effectively that such beliefs are common to
Christians and Moslems and, in places, even to Jews; he mentions,
however, one shrine at least which, on account of the more than doubtful
character of its orgies, the more fastidious Moslems have abandoned to
those of other creeds. Still, as in the time of Hosea, "they sacrifice
upon the tops of mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks
and poplars and terebinths, because the shadow thereof is good." The
shadow, by the way, has a direct effect of healing upon the really sick,
but is dangerous for the _malade imaginaire_. We would commend it to the
attention of fashionable physicians.

The discussion of sacred shrines and trees lasted us during our long and
steep descent to the bottom of the valley, where the sight of the
telegraph wires recalled us to the realities of life, and it was with
great satisfaction that we found ourselves farther descending, through a
Moslem cemetery, into the town of Jenin. Here, as elsewhere, we noticed
the entire absence of the outskirts and suburbs to which one is used in
a different civilisation. One enters directly into a city or village
without any intervention of scattered domesticity to indicate what is
coming. We were at once in the main street, substantial houses two
storeys high on either side of us; here a large _serai_ (court-house),
there a gaily-lighted coffee-house thronged with guests; gardens and
palm-trees among the houses; obvious well-being everywhere. We stopped
at the village khan, and were at once conducted to our resting-place.

In old schoolroom days, when we used to read the long lists of places
the Israelites conquered or did not conquer, we little thought that one
day we should take an active and personal interest even in the order of
their arrangement. Issachar, we learn in Joshua xix., had assigned to
them sixteen cities, which included En-gannim and Tabor, "and the
outgoings of their borders to Jordan," and here, for the first time in
our lives, we were not bored by Issachar, and were delighted to be at
En-gannim, which is Jenin, and means "the garden spring"—a fact
impressed upon us as we were ushered between long garden borders, hardy
herbaceous of aspect, overshadowed by rose-bushes, into two delightful
little stone summer-houses at the bottom, with a fountain—now, alas!
dry—between. The men took possession of one house, the ladies of the
other, and in the latter, as the larger and pleasanter, we prepared our
supper. There were mats on the floor, some stools, two chairs, a table
with a patchwork cover, and three of the deep window-seats which, in the
East, are generally large enough to count as fittings. A clay stove,
with glowing charcoal, was prepared for us outside the door, plenty of
water was placed at our service, and we were soon feasting on soup,
tinned meats, preserves, white bread, and, of course, tea. At intervals
servants came across from the khan to attend to our needs; and finally
all was cleared away, and comfortable mattresses, pillows, and wadded
quilts, all in freshly-washed covers, were spread upon the floor. It may
be worth while to mention, once for all, that, despite the presence in
our little company of some supersensitive souls, we never had occasion
to unpack our precious "Keating."

To awake in a rose garden on a December morning, to go out of doors to
wash, to take our breakfast at an open door, are sensations to remember.
Khalil was late in bringing the horses, ordered for seven o'clock, and
so sleepy that we more than suspected he had assisted at the _fantasia_,
the sounds of which had reached us far into the night. He was, however,
less inclined than usual to resent having to stay behind the rest of the
party, in order to lead the Artist's horse, at the pace which alone was
possible under the circumstances. It probably gave him the opportunity
of a good nap.

Jenin is surrounded by gardens, and dominated by palms and minarets. It
is a seat of government, has a bazaar, and two Moslem schools. One of
its mosques may have been the church which was seen by Boniface of
Ragusa, a Franciscan writer, as late as 1555, erected to commemorate an
early tradition that this was the scene of the healing of the ten
lepers, one of whom was a Samaritan—a fact, however, which, by the light
of nature, one would not expect to be specially mentioned in Samaria.

Passing over a little stream, and among cactus hedges, we soon left the
ordinary route northward on our right, not only from our usual desire to
avoid the beaten track, but because it was to be our special privilege,
under the leadership of "Baedeker," to visit two spots practically
unknown to ordinary travel—Taanak and Megiddo—at both of which very
extensive excavations are in progress, the one under Austrian, the other
under German auspices. Very soon after leaving Jenin we had made a still
farther descent, and found ourselves at the entrance of the plain of
Esdraelon or Jezreel, the greatest in Palestine, which, roughly
speaking, extends from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, although
interrupted by certain undulations. Esdraelon, the great battlefield of
the country, was commanded by a strategical line of fortresses, Taanak,
Megiddo, Bethshan, and Dor, the first three of which we hoped to visit.

Our road was, for the most part, just such as one finds in the
neighbourhood of an English agricultural village—a well-trodden path
between cultivated lands—where, however, among corn already springing
green, crocuses, white, yellow, and purple, pink cranes' bills, and
yellow daisies, the weeds of Galilee, turned the whole into the aspect
of a garden. Plovers wheeled overhead, rooks followed the ploughs,
dainty chats watched us but a few feet away, chiff-chaffs and
corn-crakes and starlings and sparrows and skylarks talked English, and
only when we passed a sacred tree hung with rags, or the eye was caught
by the colocynth fruit, or by anemones, scarlet, purple, or white, were
we reminded that this was Galilee and December, but that, being some two
hundred and fifty feet below sea-level, we had no right to feel
surprised at hot sunshine and the flora of spring.

The plain widens as we advance, and as here and there some distant spot
is pointed out upon the wide horizon, our hearts thrill at the mention
of names of lifelong familiarity, glorious in association of the past,
but which we realise with difficulty as being before us here and now.
Behind us are the hills of Samaria, to our left the country slopes
gradually upward into the low hill of _Belad-er-Ruah_ (the Breezyland),
the wall which separates the plains of Esdraelon and Sharon, hiding the
Mediterranean, and ending, far ahead, in the great precipice of Carmel,
where we know the blue waters are lapping gently this soft, warm
morning. To our right are the hills of Gilboa; while farther, where
peninsulas of mountain step out into the plain, we are bidden to look
here and there; while the name of Nain, Endor, and, above all, Nazareth,
bring before our minds pictures imagined in childhood, and which it may
be difficult, though not unwelcome, to supplant. The great round island
of Mount Tabor serves as centre from which to calculate the whereabouts
of this place and that.

Our party had been reinforced by the addition of a practical excavator
whose presence was specially valuable to us, not only for his knowledge
of the country, but because he had done active work on both of the Tells
we were about to visit. We commonly called him "the Italian," although
he spoke Italian, German, French, and Arabic with equal facility, and,
having been associated with the abandoned English railway, was even
capable, at need, of falling back upon English.

At the end of two and a quarter hours we drew up at the foot of Tell
Taanak. No one who has even seen a Tell could fail to recognise another
wherever he met it, and no one who has not seen one would be quite
easily convinced of its nature. In Europe, where, if we destroy a house,
we use the material for something else, where we reckon in centuries
where the East reckons in cycles, where smoke and damp and frost, to say
nothing of utilitarianism, are for ever laying waste, it is difficult to
conceive of a city abandoned thousands of years ago, and buried, by the
hand of Time, as gently as the Babes in the Wood by the robin-redbreast.
Imagine the city of York (to take as an example one which stands upon a
plain) forsaken of its inhabitants, gently dropping to pieces as it
stands, and, finally, neatly covered up, in the course of ages, in a
grave-shaped mound, leaving plenty of room for the cathedral towers, and
grown over with flowers and grass; then suppose that a party of New
Zealanders, visitors to Harrogate, about the fortieth century, should
make a vertical shaft straight through the middle, and, somewhat
disdainful of vestiges so modern as the county capital, should work
their way down to Eboracum, and (but here the analogy of the English
town ceases) to two or three cities below that. The specialty of the
methods of the German excavators is that specimens of all that is met
with are, if by any means possible, preserved as the investigation
proceeds, so that you may reconstruct for yourself the life of York, as
well as of Eboracum, and of any Scandinavian or British predecessors
below both.

The contrary method, of destroying one city to arrive at another, and
hastily covering up what remains of both, has however, certain
advantages, as it enables excavators to dogmatise without possibility of
contradiction from succeeding archæologists, and so saves much of that
discussion which, while it establishes knowledge and elicits facts, is a
weariness to the amateur public of subscribers and contributors. The
German (and, of course, Austrian) excavations are conducted by groups of
savants, and not by individuals. Each has his own specialty; and as
there are several of such groups now at work in Palestine each, at need,
can be reinforced from elsewhere; results can be considered from various
standpoints, and opinions exchanged. No _ad interim_ reports are
presented to the public; the excavators are not obliged to have
something to say at stated intervals; and when the results finally
appear they are in a form which leaves nothing to be desired from the
point of view of art production. Teutonic thoroughness frugality, and
self-dedication can never be more admirably exhibited than in the
prosecution of knowledge in this form; and the German expenditure, as
compared with the result, is, in Palestine, as surprising in scientific
research, as in their philanthropic institutions.

We rode as far as a terrace more than half way up, and then dismounting
were soon absorbed in the excavation, on our own account, of a rubbish
heap close by, where we filled our pockets with fragments of painted
pottery and iridescent glass, with jar handles and broken lamps. "That
is Cypriote," "that Phœnician," "that pre-Amoritic," "that merely
Arabic," pronounced our experts. "Merely Arabic" might be earlier than
the foundation of Westminster Abbey, or the days of Charlemagne, but we
were willing to hold it cheap when we could have for the stooping, let
us say, the fragment of a water-bottle, still fresh as to its
ornamentation, pleasing as to its colouring, which had long been buried
when the nomadic tribes of the Israelites first settled in Canaan; or a
lamp which may have burned when "fought the kings of Canaan in Taanak by
the waters of Megiddo"—celebrated in the savage war-song of Deborah the
prophetess, which, in its geographical allusions, is a mine of wealth to
the archæologist.

Exploring a Tell must be wonderfully exciting work, even when one has
rewards less immediate than the results at Taanak, which is the first
Canaanite site ever excavated. Think of finding oneself face to face
with the remains of the infants offered up on yonder rock-cut altar—jars
and jars full of the bones of poor little Canaanitish babies who might
otherwise have lived to play with the little Manassehites who came to
settle among them, whose fathers could not drive out the people of
Taanak from their own stronghold. Or imagine the sensation of finding,
two metres deep under the soil, the only Israelitish altar of incense
ever discovered! Although broken into forty pieces, Dr Sellin contrived
to put it together, when it was found to be exactly in accordance with
the prescribed Mosaic measurements, decorated with rams' horns, with
carvings of six cherubs and four lions, and with representations of the
Tree of Life and the struggle of a man with the serpent. Dr Sellin
ascribes it to the period when the Samaritan influence was strong in
Israelitish worship, and thinks it may be as late as from five hundred
to one hundred years before Christ. It is to be observed, however, that
the German specialists hesitate to claim the very remote periods
assigned by other excavators to similar discoveries, often differing
from them by as much as a thousand years.

Here we came across the massive wall of a Canaanitish building of a
period some eighteen hundred years before Christ; there what was
possibly the house of Baana, the governor of the fortress in the time of
Solomon; here an Arabian castle of the times of Haroun-er-Raschid; here
was found an image of Baal, there of Astarte, here a head of Jahwe, the
god of whom it was forbidden to make any graven image. The variety of
the commercial relations of Taanak is shown by Mykenæan pottery from the
Ægean, scarabs from Egypt, seal cylinders from Babylon. Four thousand
years at least passed in review before us as we clambered among the
ruins; we ran down an inclined plane into a city which was ancient when
the child Joseph passed under its walls, a trembling little slave, on
his way down from Dothan into Egypt; or, perching on a staircase, looked
into the homes of those citizens whom Joshua failed to subdue. Here we
mount a few steps, and find ourselves in the fortress which guarded the
plain when Israel and Sisera were struggling on the banks of the Kishon;
or, wandering outside, we rest beneath the city walls

 "Graven with emblems of the time,
 In honour of the golden prime
 Of good Haroun Alraschid."

No story of the Arabian Nights which may have been related here could
have for us half the glamour, the enchantment, of those we may make for
ourselves here and now. A fragment of iridescent glass, of an ivory
handle, of a water-jar—here are charms enough to weave the magic spell!
And here, to exorcise all, comes the rain, and we find ourselves again
amid the petty cares of to-day, and hasten back to the terrace where our
horses are patiently waiting.

We were quite ready to accept the alleged Megiddo as such, on the
authority, among others, of Robinson among older geographers, and of
Professor G. A. Smith among the new, and, perhaps still more, of those
who had turned the site, as well as the question, inside out.

Tell el-Mutesellim lies just beyond Lejjun, which corresponds with the
Legio of Eusebius. The great plain is called by St Jerome by the name of
Campus Legionis, as well as the plain of Megiddo. "The waters of
Megiddo," of which we read in Judges, are represented by the abundant
streams, tributaries of the Kishon, which the Arabs call the Muquṭṭa. At
Lejjun one at once observes a very fine aqueduct, and a large mill, both
Roman, and some tentative excavation, which promises good results later,
has revealed a theatre and some bricks stamped with the cognisance of
the sixth legion. Megiddo and Taanak are always named together in Bible
history, and we learn that both were fortified towns before the
Israelitish occupation; that the tribe of Manasseh failed to drive out
the inhabitants; that Solomon fortified Megiddo; and that two kings of
Judah—Ahaziah and Josiah—died there, far from their own royal city—a
fact which testifies to its continued consequence. Excavation at Tell
el-Mutesellim has revealed a strongly-fortified city of obvious
importance, which seems to fulfil all required conditions. Conder,
however, identifies Megiddo with a distant town near the Jordan, far
from Taanak, the Kishon, and the great plain, which there was no
particular reason for fortifying, but which is called Mujedda, which
sounds rather like Megiddo.

We reached Lejjun in bright sunshine about an hour after leaving Taanak,
and Tell el-Mutesellim rises somewhat abruptly beyond. On an intervening
hill, separated from the Tell by a narrow valley, stands a row of
corrugated-iron huts, neatly lined with wood, surmounted by the German
flag, and bearing the familiar legend, "Thames Iron Works," another
reminder that the abandoned English railway, making such rapid progress
but a few miles away, must henceforth be put to the credit of Turkish
finance and German perseverance.

One large hut served as reception-room, and later as bedroom for the
ladies, a second as storeroom and bedroom for the men, and a third was
divided into stable, kitchen, and sleeping-place for the servants. A
drawing-room was arranged for us in the open air, where deck-chairs were
placed so as to be sheltered by huts on both sides, with a glorious view
over the Tell beyond to Carmel, Tabor, and the mountains of Gilboa;
while the fertile plain stretched like a great sea all around, and
behind us we could look over Lejjun, in the near distance, to our old
friends the hills east of the Jordan.

"Baedeker" and the Italian had been greeted by half the inhabitants of
the district, all old friends and co-workers in the excavation of the
Tell, glad just now of a vacation, which gave them leisure to cultivate
their fields, but quite ready to return to the work promised them in a
few weeks. We met a man with a gun, who had wandered far, in vain, in
search of game for our table, and another who mourned that only a couple
of eggs had been forthcoming when our somewhat sudden arrival was
announced; but the cook, _pro tem_, was in good spirits at having at an
early hour secured five chickens, which had been simmering ever since.
One of the Arab's many virtues is that his soups are strong and he never
gives you underdone meat. If this were true at lunch it was still more
so at dinner, after seven hours' additional cooking, and the liberal
allowance of material, all served in the same _pot-à-feu_, gave everyone
the chance to select his favourite portion. The Italian, who had made a
shorter journey than we, had brought us some extra luxuries, and we
found ourselves in very comfortable quarters.

After luncheon we visited the Tell, and, with plenty of time before us,
enjoyed a detailed inspection, and the opportunity of pausing, wherever
we felt disposed, for discussion and examination. The amount of
excavation already accomplished was just enough, like the index of an
interesting book, to indicate what might be expected, and to rouse,
without exhausting, our interest. Here we were shown what seemed an
extraordinary extent of surface excavated in proportion to the short
period—about four months—of work. "Baedeker" had himself had charge of
the work, with the Italian as foreman, and so we were able to follow in
detail the plan of operation, and to learn how to dissect a Tell. They
had begun at the eastern edge because, as it was the highest point, they
expected to find an acropolis, as was, in fact, the case. The city to
which it belonged had, apparently, been destroyed by fire, as the great
beams which served as supports were considerably charred. The fortress,
of Jewish workmanship, was built of great stones, but the buttresses
were of brick. There was an outer wall, and an aqueduct of later, but
also of Jewish, construction.

We were even more interested in a temple of pagan cult, where, not in
the open air, as usual, but inside a square chamber, were found a
rock-cut altar, and on either side a mazeba, or stone pillar, such as
Solomon set up before the Temple, with the names of Jachin and Boaz, and
such as, under the name of menhirs, we find in Scotland and the west of
England, and, in fact, all over the world—relics of a cult associated
with the most elementary principles of nature worship. In horribly
suggestive proximity were sacrificial jars containing the bones of
infants, head downwards.

South of the walls of the fort were many small rooms, possibly barracks;
while a tomb near was crowded with the bodies of men, and in another
tomb were found ten skulls, of which many showed cuts or holes,
evidently relics of a siege. One incomplete shaft, but a few feet wide
and seventeen metres deep, not yet reaching rock, showed us the method
of beginning operations. Here we could see sections of a wall of unburnt
brick, and of two others of unhewn stone, and we longed to return to see
these indications followed up. Among the most precious portable finds
were an idol and a terra-cotta head, probably Egyptian, a seal with
letters in an unknown script, a bowl for libations, a painted censer,
and several enamelled gods. Shortly before our arrival, during the last
days of work before pausing for the winter rains, some large tombs had
been opened, and found to contain some beautiful and unique painted
jars, as well as other jars, bowls, and lamps in large quantities. No
description of these excavations had as yet been published, and we
thought ourselves very fortunate in being able to study and inquire at
first hand. It is almost equally interesting to listen to an explanation
of work accomplished, and to speculate as to the results of work only
begun.

After dinner we were tempted by the notion of visiting these cities of
the dead by moonlight, and were well repaid for the effort of crossing
the rough ground of the intervening valley. There were no sensuous
triumphs of Greek or Roman art, no glories of column and capital, but,
perhaps still more impressive, the homes of peoples who had passed away
when Greece and Rome were yet unborn. Here were streets trodden by men
of like passions with ourselves: hastening to business or pleasure,
meeting their brides or burying their dead. Here were chambers in which
the drama of life had been played out over and over again—comedy as well
as tragedy, birth and death; here the altars where vows had been
fulfilled and the gods propitiated; gardens sanctified by the games of
children, the laughter of youth; where ambitions, hopes, affections had
been born—to die, or to live for ever. All around us spoke of the
eternity of all but man—the stars, the hills, the flowers which return
to us year by year—Carmel outliving its tragedies, Tabor its miracles;
beyond the hills that ancient river, the River Kishon, hastening to the
eternal sea. Man alone had passed away, leaving only the wreck of his
labour, the ruin of his homes, to show where he had been. But yet
another thought came to us. In a fold of yonder hills, where the
moonlight rested tenderly, lay the little village of Nazareth, where
long ago there dwelt a Man who

                       "Wrought
 With human hands the creed of creeds
 In loveliness of perfect deeds,
 More strong than all poetic thought."

We carried our discussion no further. Surely here, as in that little
village, had been men into whose lives had entered the beautiful and the
true—which, in proportion as they resembled the life of that Man of
Nazareth, must endure for ever.

It was the last night of the old year, and in each heart were memories
and longings which might not be revealed. We walked back through the
soft night air, each thinking of friends far away, gathered about winter
fires, and speculating, perhaps, as to the whereabouts of their
wanderers. When we had once more assembled in our friendly hut, and,
thanks to "Baedeker's" kindly forethought, had drunk together of an
excellent punch of tea and red wine, with a dash of kirsch-wasser, we
felt constrained to go forth once more into the wide space beyond. Not a
solitary light twinkled on the hillside; the village of Lejjun was
sleeping: we were the centre of our world. The horses were tethered
before our doors, and we were amused to observe that the force of habit
persisted even in sleep, and that, so used were they to travelling _en
queue_ that, even in repose, they stood in a single row, head to tail.

 "The shadows flicker to and fro:
 The cricket chirps: the light burns low,—
 'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.
 Shake hands before you die,
 Old year, we'll dearly rue for you.
 What is it we can do for you?
 Speak out before you die!"

Each of us had our special regret as we stood beside that grave, each
our special hopes as, only a few minutes later, we greeted the stranger
guest and wished each other A Happy New Year!



CHAPTER IV

HAIFA AND CARMEL

 "Traversing this fertile country one is more and more impressed with
 the incorrectness of the judgment of the ordinary tourist who,
 confining himself to the route prescribed by Cook, is taken through the
 barren hills of Judæa and to one or two holy places in Galilee, and
 then goes home and talks about the waste and desolation of
 Palestine."—LAURENCE OLIPHANT


The early hours of the next morning were devoted to sketching and
photography, and after a midday lunch we mounted for a ride, of some
nine hours, to Haifa. We soon found ourselves back in the plain, with
the great precipice of Carmel before us for our goal. The general
features of the country were the same as yesterday, except that we had
the River Kishon for our companion. Even the slight amount of rain which
had fallen had had its effect here, and the road in parts was heavy
enough to disconcert the horses, who picked their way as daintily as if
they remembered nothing of the fact that it had rained, with
considerable mud as a result, even in their own royal city of Jerusalem,
only nine months ago. We could not wonder, however, that the River
Kishon should have swept away the hosts of Sisera, for on ground such as
this the horse-hoofs might well be "broken by means of the prancings,"
and nine hundred chariots of iron, hemmed in between the river and the
steep hillside, would have a very poor chance, especially in the rainy
season, which one may imagine it to have been, as Jael, whom one thinks
of as of the Medici, or the knitting-women of the Fronde, "brought forth
butter in a lordly dish"; and butter, except at a prohibitive price, at
a convent or two in Jerusalem, is not to be had in the summer months.
Surely so vile a woman was never celebrated in song!

The flowers were an endless feast; never had we seen anemones of so many
shades, and perhaps the greatest event of the day was the finding of the
first jonquils, _narcissus tazetta_. We had been watching their deep
green homes for the last three days, but this was the first time we had
been rewarded. Both the Doctors contrived to possess themselves, upon an
island in the river, although with some difficulty, of a great handful
of the sweet-smelling blooms, the firstlings of our New Year's Day. A
few minutes later we came to a couple of bridges, one for the railway
and one for the road, and from that point we were more or less in sight
of the railway all the time. Some of the horses made a great fuss about
the passing of a train, for, although the line is not yet formally open
for passenger traffic, a train runs every day in each direction for the
convenience of the engineers. Just at sunset, after about eight hours'
travelling, we came in view of the lights of Haifa, twinkling along the
shore, with only the palms and minarets to dispel the illusion that it
might be Brighton or Hastings. Carmel was before us, the great landmark
of the Palestine coast, boldly leaping out into the sea, its lighthouse
throwing out a friendly welcome, rather, perhaps, than a warning, to
those who go down to the sea in ships. This is the one spot on all the
Syrian coast remotely resembling a harbour; elsewhere are only ledges
for sea-birds, rocks inviting to wreckage, and Nile sand brought up by
the currents flowing north. The Phœnicians, of whom alone among all the
inhabitants of Syria we can think as a seafaring people, traded from
farther north. Little wonder that the people of such a land should
welcome the promise, so strange to other ears: "There shall be no more
sea!" For many months in the year the inhabitants of Judæa can count on
letters only "if they can land at Jaffa," and constantly, even when
mail-bags can be tossed into the small boats, which alone can come
ashore, passengers are carried past, northward to Beirut, or south to
Egypt, to make a fresh attempt, often two or three times repeated; and
every year has its record of drowning and disaster.

Sir John Maundeville, who is never at a loss to account for anything
that comes in his way, gravely assures us that there was here formerly
"a good city of the Christians called Caiphas, because Caiaphas first
founded it." The town of Haifa (the Arabic name being variously
transliterated Haifa and Caifa) is the old Sycaminum; the modern town,
however, stands farther within the bay than the old, the ruins of which
are still visible at the foot of Mount Carmel. It was built in the
middle of the eighteenth century by Dhaher, a famous governor of the
neighbouring Acre or Akko, which is the old Ptolemais.

Our quarters at Haifa were at the farther end of the town, and after
passing through streets which, though better than in many places, are
decidedly Oriental as to width, paving, and dirt, it was reposeful to
find ourselves in the German colony—a picturesque European village: wide
streets planted with trees, well-kept roads, gardens gay with flowers,
and houses which seem to have been transported from some quaint, old
country town, each with its text in "black letter" over the door. One,
above all others, was to some among us almost a place of pilgrimage,
with all its associations of a man of genius unappreciated,
misunderstood—one of the many messengers who, with hands laden with
gifts, sought to come unto his own, and his own received him not!

 +Wohl denen, die das Gebot halten und thun immerdar Recht.+
 +Hans Oliphant.+

Not England, and not America, carry on his work of—literally—sweetness
and light, but the Germans. Haifa is practically a German town so far as
its trade, agriculture, and property are concerned. Even the Russian,
American, and, till lately, the English consuls are Germans, and most
officials, of whatever nationality, reside in the colony. The hotels,
shops, and banks are German. The Roman Catholic hospital and hospice are
in the hands of a German sisterhood; the sanatorium on Mount Carmel with
its luxurious accommodation and extensive grounds, _rendezvous_ of
English missionaries, is conducted by Germans.

The Scottish medical mission, here as elsewhere preaching the Gospel of
good deeds, has an admirable hospital. _The Jerusalem and the East
Mission_ has a chaplain. The great hospice on Mount Carmel is maintained
by the Carmelite Fathers. Out of 12,000 inhabitants half are Moslems,
sixteen hundred Jews, and about a thousand Greek, Orthodox, and Latins.
Of the six hundred Europeans, five hundred are Germans; the rest of the
population is mainly Maronite and Greek Catholic.

Plain living and high thinking are, of course, the ideal of life, but
there is a joy in unpacking, in a hot bath, in a white table-cloth. Our
companions at table were mainly German engineers and contractors, at
work on the new railway. We regretted that we were too late to see the
opening ceremony of a few days before, which seems to have presented
some interesting features, and was certainly a triumph for the Turkish
Government. In spite of its execution having been German—for even when
in English hands its surveyor was Dr Schumacher, the German-American
Vice-Consul—the Moslem ownership of the railway has not been lost sight
of, and it is an interesting anomaly that its inauguration was
accompanied by the sacrifice of several sheep. Their throats were cut,
the blood poured upon the soil, and the flesh roasted and given to the
poor. This is done "for a blessing." How far this savage ceremony is a
perpetuation of the Old Testament idea of propitiating the Deity, how
far it is done to avert the attention of the _jinn_, it is impossible to
say. Similar ceremonies are performed, both by Moslems and Christians,
at the initiation of any undertaking,[3] from the opening of public
works to the building of a dwelling-house, the anointing with blood
being a necessary element.

To our great regret we were now to lose our friend "Baedeker," to whom
we owed so much of pleasure and information. We had given him, in
return, much valuable advice on how to construct a guide-book, framed on
the analogy of certain specimens beloved of tourists, from which we had
culled choice extracts for frequent quotation, the general principles of
which seemed to be hasty generalisation and the inculcation of moral
lessons. We may incidentally mention that the longer and better one
knows Syria the more one learns to appreciate the blessings of Baedeker
and to value its extreme accuracy, even in the smallest particulars.

We devoted the next day to renewing our stock of provisions at the
excellent shops, visiting friends, and, finally, to a ride up Mount
Carmel. Last year an Austrian boat, the _Posseidon_, came ashore in this
very treacherous harbour, and among other passengers rescued from the
wreck were a cat and kittens, belonging to the son of the captain. These
kittens found a kindly welcome among the German population, and in two
houses were introduced to our notice with much pride. They were
evidently accustomed to attention, for their self-esteem exceeded that
of even other cats "subject to vanity," and their Angora lineage, short
faces, tufted ears, bushy tales, and black toes justified their claim to
admiration. The Arab cat leaves little to be desired as to pelage, but,
as a rule, his markings, black on white, would disgrace a fox-terrier.
He is, for the most part, well treated in Palestine, and, in
consequence, extremely intelligent; but, like the Arabs themselves, and
the Arab donkeys, is too much _en evidence_ for perfect good breeding,
and his "flashes of silence" are very occasional, and generally due to
sleep or food.

The ride up Mount Carmel was an occasion never to be forgotten. The new
carriage road climbs the four hundred and eighty feet which lead to the
convent in wide sweeps, and is very easy; but the direct ascent is
abrupt, and the views proportionately impressive. Northward, the
crescent-shaped bay terminated in Acre, with all its associations of
crusading times; while far below us Haifa, and all its gardens, offered,
perhaps, the most smiling and prosperous picture which Palestine had
ever shown us. The detached houses, buried in trees; the unwonted
completeness and order of the cultivation; the miles of terraced
vineyards, parents of the excellent Haifa wine; the picturesque German
colony; the estates of Selim Effendi Khuri—the millionaire of a district
in which are many rich men, mainly Germans; the orange and lemon
gardens, with their wealth of fruit, here a flame of bougainvilea, there
a bower of fragrant jessamine, at intervals a group of stately
palms—where else can we find a prospect such as this?

And then, when we reached the top, was there ever such a rock garden as
extends for miles along the summit of Carmel, the mountain which
travellers abuse, and for which guide-books apologise? Did ever a
January sky shine over a more marvellous wealth of beauty and of
promise? Rocks of limestone and hornstone; a general effect of
greenness, kept fresh at all times of the year owing to the
neighbourhood of the sea and the constant dews; scattered shade of
sapling oaks, of carobs, hawthorns, elders, Guelder-roses, pomegranates,
acacias, almonds now laden with bloom, arbutus, and tamarisks; an
undergrowth of azalea, genista, rock-rose, juniper, a tangle of the
glorious clematis _cirrhosa_, with its delicate greenish blossom;
myrtles, and "the slender galingale"; ferns in every shady nook—the
_felis-mas_, _asplenium-trichomanes_, the scented fern;
_cheilanthes-fragrans_, the waving maiden-hair—a feast of colour and
sweetness; cyclamen, crimson, pink, and white; hyacinths, blue;
chrysanthemums, golden; mandrakes, royal purple; periwinkle, sapphire;
anemone _coronaria_, scarlet, purple, pink, white; the stately narcissus
and sweet jonquils; crocuses, golden, purple, and white. And then the
promise! How we longed to wait a week or two, as we watched the strong
green swords of the bulbous and tuberous plants preparing to defend
their coming treasure; the irises, great and small; the gladioli, the
squills, the star of Bethlehem, the hyacinths, the arums, the orchises.
Soon, too, there would be adonis, red and yellow; scarlet ranunculus,
chrysanthemums, and later, asphodels, lupins, scented stocks, lychnis,
geraniums of many kinds, centaureas, valerian and a hundred other
blooms, which had sent no word of their coming, and at which we could
only guess. To catalogue only seems a sort of profanation.

             "I touch,
 But cannot praise; I love too much."

There, for the first time, we saw the beautiful little sun-bird,
although it is said to be common in the Jericho district. To the
uninstructed it is a humming-bird, although one is assured that they
exist only in the New World. It is little over four inches long,
radiantly attired in purple, green, and blue, with brilliant orange
tufts upon his shoulders, a wonderful metallic sheen over all, and a
long, curved bill. The little lady who accompanies him, though far more
humbly dressed, is also dainty and fascinating in brown shot with green.
Another tiny bird which gave us much delight was the long-tailed wren,
_drymæca gracilis_, which runs up tamarisk-trees like a tit, with a
little fan spread open behind it.

The scene gave a new meaning to familiar words: "The desert shall
rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly: the glory
of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon."
The flowers of Lebanon and Sharon are also a joy and delight to the
beauty-loving eye, but to our fancy the excellency of Carmel is supreme.
The mountain at its highest point is less than two thousand feet, but,
rising sheer from the sea, is more imposing than many mountains of
greater elevation. The entire length of the range does not exceed
fifteen miles; but as only two villages, occupied mainly by Druses and
Greek Catholics, occur to break its solitude, wild beasts—jackals,
hyænas, wild boars, and even occasional panthers—are still more or less
in possession, although the cultivation of vines for the famous Haifa
vintage, has carried civilisation and humanity to a considerable
distance.

Of course, we visited the convent, with all its hospitalities and its
interesting historical associations: its memories of pious anchorites,
of their union, in the fifth century, with one of the earliest religious
orders; of the Benedictines who, early in the ninth century, built the
Church of St Margaret; of St Louis; of massacres which laid desolate the
convent; of the church turned into a mosque; and finally of the
restoration of the order, with permission to rebuild. The monastery was
used as a hospital when Napoleon besieged Acre, and the wounded,
murdered by the Turks, lie under a small pyramid in the convent garden.
Destroyed once more by the Pasha of Acre in 1821, the buildings have
been again restored on a scale to accommodate the large pilgrimages
which come every year from Europe. Even more humble pilgrims, natives or
Hindoos—for "the grotto of Elijah" and the "school of the prophets" are
venerated also by Moslems—are not forgotten, and a special building is
provided for them at the base of the lighthouse, which is under the care
of the monastery. It is said that an Italian, Brother Giovanni of
Frascati, is the real author of the reconstruction of the Carmelite
prosperity, for, sent by the general of the order to inquire into the
condition of things, he found only wrecked walls, and, as sole survivor
of the order, a single brother, who had taken refuge in Haifa. A firman
was obtained from Constantinople, and the two brothers devoted
themselves to the collection of funds, with such results that in 1827,
six years after its destruction, a new foundation stone was laid by
Giovanni himself. Liberal gifts must have followed, for, though severe
in style, the buildings are very spacious and solid, and include a good
library, very handsome church, oratory, and chapter-house.

A small chamber, little more than a cave, said to have been the
habitation of the three poor Carmelites who inaugurated the return of
the order in 1636, has been recently converted into a chapel dedicated
to St Simon Stock, the Kentishman who was general of the order in
Palestine in 1245.

We lingered to see the sunset clouds gather above the Mediterranean, and
then rode over the top of the ridge, and so back to the town, almost
grudging to go indoors as the stars sprang out and the red roofs and
green palms and olives of the German village faded away into greys and
purples. After dinner we had the privilege of examining Dr Schumacher's
precious little museum at the American consulate, and of seeing the map
of his survey of the East Jordanland, the first that has yet been
completed.

 [3] Curtiss, _op. cit._ Chap. xiv.



CHAPTER V

NAZARETH AND TABOR

 "From thence men go to Nazareth, of which our Lord beareth the surname
 ... because our Lady was born at Nazareth, therefore our Lord bare His
 surname of that town."

 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE, 1322

 "Mount Tabor in Galilee ... is of a remarkably round shape, and covered
 in an extraordinary manner with grass and flowers."

 ARCULF, 700 A.D.


Our departure next morning—our little party reduced to three and one
mukari—was somewhat delayed by the conduct of Sadowi, who, brought up in
Moslem surroundings, firmly protested against being ridden past a pig in
the streets of Haifa. If it had been a lion he could not have objected
more strongly, and as the movement of a pig is not rapid our progress,
for the length of an entire street, was a work of time. We were bound
for Nazareth, only some twenty-four miles distant, along a fairly good
road, but this was, on the whole, the most wearisome day of our journey.
A chain is no stronger than its weakest link; Khalil had to lead the
Artist's horse at a walk, our second servant had gone, and even if we
had known the way, or if it had seemed prudent to divide our forces, our
horses had no confidence in Frenjy, and so firmly refused to separate
from their stable companions—human and equine—that, after disputing the
question with them until we were tired, we abandoned ourselves to the
dragging pace which is so wearing to horse and rider, and which
protracted our journey till late in the afternoon.

Descending after three miles into the fertile plain of the Kishon we
retraced our road towards Megiddo for some miles, and then climbed to
higher ground, and passed through a succession of beautiful groves of
oak, very rare in this country, and which, we regretted to see, had been
partially destroyed in the construction of the new carriage road from
Haifa to Tiberias. Once more descending we reached, about fifteen miles
from Haifa, the village of Semûniyeh, historically interesting as being
the first settlement in Palestine of the German Society of Templars, who
have done so much for commerce and agriculture, and have demonstrated,
as no other Europeans have done, by their well-built, well-arranged
colonies, the fact that it is possible to live a domestic life under
conditions of order, beauty, and sanitation even in Palestine. This
first site, however promising and pleasing to the eye, was not, however,
well chosen, for the spring, bordered with flowers and shaded with
maiden-hair, turned out to be very unwholesome. We passed, just below,
the little village of Yâfâ, where since 1641 the Franciscans have
possessed a small chapel, on the alleged site of the house of Zebedee.
The villagers are mainly Latins and Greek Orthodox.

The town of Nazareth is so buried in a cleft of the hills that it came
into sight quite suddenly, lying to the left of the road, with a few
separated buildings, mostly modern institutions, the most striking of
which is the immense orphanage of the Salesian Fathers, with its long
arcades and its exalted position. A convent of Poor Clares is the only
building noticeable to the right of the road; on the left we pass a
pleasant-looking hotel (German) and some half-dozen houses, and we are
at the gates of the Franciscan hospice, a handsome building, capable of
accommodating over two hundred guests, with spacious reception-rooms and
every modern convenience, built mainly by the liberality of Americans,
and known, in consequence, as Notre Dame d'Amerique. Its hospitality,
like that of all the Franciscan hospices, is open to all, rich and poor,
irrespective of sex, creed, or nationality. Guests are at liberty to
leave a gift for the maintenance of the house; but nothing is asked, and
the Lady related several instances, personally known to her, in which it
had been declined owing to the circumstances, known or suspected, of the
visitor.

One's emotions on finding oneself in Nazareth are, like so many of the
most sacred things in life, "nothing to speak of." Easier is it to dwell
upon our hearty welcome and kindly companionship, upon the refreshment
of comfortable rooms and an excellent table, upon the unattractiveness
of the modern town and the superfluous philanthropy and multiplication
of benevolent institutions.

After "the cup that cheers," and which a Franciscan hospice anywhere in
Palestine may be warranted to produce at sight of an Englishwoman, we
wandered forth, rather rashly, in the twilight. The Lady alleged that
the ground-plan of the town could only be compared with Clovelly—each
house looks down the next-door chimneys, or would if chimneys there
were. The streets appeared to be about nine feet wide. On either side is
a pavement wide enough for one person; the middle is a water-course, a
drain, or a depository for decaying vegetable matter according to the
character of the quarter. If you meet a donkey your conversation with
your companion across the street is interrupted till it has clattered
past; if it is loaded you flatten yourself against the wall; if you meet
a camel you step inside the nearest house. The people have the manners
of those accustomed to tourists and to superfluously benevolent
institutions: the women stare boldly, the children demand backsheesh,
the men have lost the Oriental courtesy so welcome in less frequented
places.

The population is about ten thousand, of whom thirty-five hundred are
Moslems, and thirty-five hundred Greeks; about twenty-eight hundred
Catholics, Latin, Greek, and Maronite, and about two hundred and fifty
Protestants. The people are prosperous, mainly as agriculturists, but
there is also some commerce in cotton and grain.

The Franciscans, besides their own college for novices, have a school
for boys; the Salesians an orphanage for boys; the Christian Brothers a
school for boys, with higher grade as well as elementary teaching; the
Dames de Nazareth an orphanage and school for girls; the Sisters of St
Joseph a school for girls and a dispensary; the Brothers of St John the
Divine a hospital and dispensary; the Sisters of Charity all the
miscellaneous works of care for young and old, for homeless and infirm,
with which everywhere they fill up the gaps left by others. The Greeks,
Russians, Maronites—all have their own institutions; the Russians a very
large hospice for pilgrims. The Edinburgh Medical Mission has a church
and hospital, and the English have a small orphanage for girls, founded
by the Society for Female Education, which, despite its unattractive
title, has done some excellent work in Palestine. How, out of a
Christian population of about three thousand (exclusive of Greek
Orthodox, and in a well-to-do town), enough material is collected to
furnish occupation to so many societies, and the means of spending so
much money as is here represented, is beyond the understanding of the
mere layman!

Darkness fell suddenly, and in the narrow, unlighted streets we—to our
own self-contempt at so unusual a circumstance—lost our way, got mixed
with a long train of camels which, whether standing or sitting,
barricaded our steps in all directions, and were finally rescued by a
lad speaking very good French, who lifted the Lady bodily over
pack-saddles and humps of camels, drove her under arches formed by the
front and hind legs of camels, held aside for her the investigating
muzzles of camels, defended her from the hind legs of camels, and
finally, to her great surprise, delivered her safe at the convent door,
and disappeared into the dark.

Next day we visited all the traditional sites, known by description to
all the world. The great Church of the Annunciation, rich with costly
gifts of marbles, and silver, and pictures, on the site of that built by
Constantine, is the parish church of the Franciscans. The present
building is not older than the beginning of the eighteenth century; its
immediate predecessor having been burnt and pillaged by the Bedu from
beyond the Jordan. A very simple chapel covers a part of the
foundations, still visible, of a crusading church, on ground bought by
the Franciscans a hundred and fifty years ago, and which they hope some
day to restore. The timeworn arches, the fragments of masonry standing
silent and solitary in a walled garden, among well-ordered
flower-beds—the tradition that this was the site of the workshop of
Joseph, the village carpenter, impressed us more than all the wealth,
the multiplied legends of the handsome Church of the Annunciation.[4]
The Franciscans have also a chapel covering the rock said to be the
scene of one of the occasions when our Lord, after His resurrection, was
known in the breaking of bread. The Greek Catholics are in possession of
the church which is associated with the synagogue in which Jesus is said
to have preached, and from which He was cast out; the Greek Orthodox of
a chapel which covers one of the springs of the village well. Here, as
in many other places where only one well exists, we may feel certain of
at least one scene of many sacred associations.

Later in the day the Lady and the Doctor rode up to the top of one of
the many hills, which stand out like islands or peninsulas in the plain,
and from which, but a mile or two beyond the village, one has a view
which is an epitome of Old and New Testament history. It is said that
one may see thirty miles in three directions: east to the valley of the
Jordan and the hills of Gilead beyond, west to the Mediterranean, and in
the nearer foreground one may look upon the battlefields of Esdraelon,
on Carmel and Tabor, on the scenes of the history of Elijah, Barak,
Gideon, of the death of Saul, of the struggles of the Maccabees, of the
life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Here, once more, one cannot fail to be struck by the falsity of
conventional teaching. No meditation on the boyhood of Jesus is complete
without its paragraph as to the obscurity of His home, the remoteness of
this Galilean village, its aloofness from the life and history of the
times. The very phrase "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" is
taken in support of its insignificance, instead of evidence of the
well-known character for turbulence of its inhabitants—a character said,
by those in political authority, to be still prominent to-day.

Apart, however, from the stimulus of its surrounding scenery it is
obvious to the most elementary student that Nazareth was very little
removed from the most crowded highway, from the centre of the busiest
life of Palestine; that—to speak it with reverence—an intelligent boy,
wandering about the neighbourhood as boys will, would bring in every day
news of all the activities, the competitions, the commerce, the politics
of the times. Midianite caravans making their way to the fords of the
Jordan would tell of all the wealth and learning of Egypt, and reflect
somewhat of its contact with Europe; Damascus caravans coming south or
returning home from trading expeditions; pilgrims going up to Jerusalem
to the feasts, and bringing back news of the capital, the _rendezvous_
of all Jewry; lords and princes with their retinues travelling from the
Greek cities of the Decapolis to the Greek city of Tiberias, but a few
hours distant; Roman legions marching south; luxurious ladies going down
to winter among the palm gardens of Jericho; learned men travelling from
one city to another; peripatetic teachers as the fashion was; Herod and
his Court removing from Tiberias to Sebaste, to Jericho, to
Jerusalem—all such spectacles would be of daily occurrence, a part of
that human training which made the Master, perfect Man; which taught Him
sympathy not only with those who frequented the carpenter's workshop and
the fisherman's hut, but with a learning, a civilisation, a life, which
brings Him nearer to us and to our own temptations and interests than
some would have us think; which made it necessary that His teachings
should be represented not only by the Synoptic gospels but by the author
of the fourth gospel, by the Epistle to the Hebrews, by the philosophy
of St Paul.

Looking down from our elevation at a scene which showed the ploughman
with his yoke, the sower with his basket, the busy little town, the many
schools, hospitals, orphanages; the hospitalities of the Franciscans and
the Russians, frequented, later in the year, by persons of every class
and nationality; the buildings in progress, the vehicles and laden
beasts travelling seawards to Haifa, in touch with all the commerce of
the age, we turned for one moment to the convent of Poor Clares at our
feet, with the passing thought that asceticism, inactivity,
contemplation such as this, was an anomaly compared not only with our
own life but with that of Him whom they would serve.

The Artist's horse required an off day or two, and the roads were in
such good condition that it was arranged that the Artist should follow
in a carriage, as the rest of the party had a long day in prospect. The
Church of the Annunciation had been crowded every evening with village
people, singing special litanies, and praying for rain. "I thought of
your long ride, and prayed with mixed feelings," said a kindly Father;
"but the majority are against you, and you had better make the most of
the time. I saw 'as it were a man's hand' over Carmel!"

Accordingly we set off at twilight next morning, and saw the sun rise
over the hills of Galilee. The little town had not yet awakened to life,
and not a single woman waited with her pitcher at the well which
yesterday had been a scene of so much activity. We had planned to visit
the Austrian hospital, where so much science and surgical skill are
devoted to the poor by the Brothers of St John the Divine, but the early
start and a change in our route made this impossible. The country
hereabouts is not in itself interesting, except for the beauty of
colouring, which is never wanting in Palestine, and for the associations
of which we were everywhere reminded. We looked back at the Mount of
Precipitation, with its sheer precipice of 1000 feet, at the range of
Carmel, at Tabor and Hermon, at the wide plain to the south and the
rising ground beyond, where, in Nain and Endor and Shunem, men and women
were still perplexed by the mysteries of life and death.

Khalil chose to conduct us off the highroad, which seemed to us better
adapted to the imperfect light, and over some very rough ground through
the village of Gath-Hepher, birthplace of Jonah, and where, as may be
gathered from the presence of his tomb, he was also buried. He was,
additionally, buried near Jaffa, and somewhere in the direction of
Hebron—circumstances of a nature not unusual in the case of saints and
heroes popular among the faithful of more than one confession. This, we
gathered, was his Moslem burial-place.

About twenty minutes later we reached the spring of Kefr Kennâ, probably
the Cana of the New Testament, and, if so, the source of the water that
was made wine. The women, somewhat wild-looking and unkempt at this
early hour, were filling their jars from the sarcophagus into which the
water runs; but they offered no discourtesy, and made no demands for
backsheesh. It was barely seven o'clock when we rode into the courtyard
of the little Latin church built over the alleged site of the first
miracle of Jesus. The Franciscans in charge of the mission were in
church, we were told, and we made our way in, and found the father (with
the single attendant brother) saying his office by the light of a
solitary candle. When he had finished he hastened to place himself at
our disposal, showed us the church, and afterwards invited us to take
refreshment. The church is a little gem, both as to architecture and
decoration. It is seldom one can honestly admire a modern church in this
country, as, however good the building may be, it is generally hideously
disfigured by the offerings of the faithful. However, at Cana there are
no nuns to make crochet and paper flowers, no opportunities for grateful
Arabs to testify piety by Christmas-tree balls. All is of rich
simplicity, and the Père Curé is too good an archæologist to allow of
the usual glaring anomalies. The church, built in 1880, stands on the
site of an older one, visible below the present flooring at various
points where trap-doors are open to exhibit, here an inscription in
mosiac, there a fragment of wall or of carving; but it may be doubted
whether these belong to the church built by Helena and described by
Paula in the fourth, Antoninus Martyr in the sixth, and Willibald in the
seventh century; and visited, according to Michaud, by St Louis, in May
1251, with his wife, Margaret of Provence. A large earthenware jar is
shown in the church, of antique design and of local manufacture, in
illustration of those in use in the time of our Lord. The amount of wine
that six such water-pots would contain was, indeed, a princely
wedding-gift.

In the simple little presbytery, at right angles with the church,
curiously reminiscent of many an one in the Highlands of Scotland, we
tasted the wine of Cana of Galilee, the red wine of the district, pure
and refreshing, with the cordial quality of Burgundy rather than the
acidity of claret.

A little Franciscan oratory, built upon the foundations of an ancient
chapel, which, in its turn, became a mosque, marks the traditional site
of the house of Nathaniel. The adjoining ground now serves as a
cemetery. We retraced our steps to the entrance of the village, and
returned once more to the Great Plain, where, as we passed by the
village of Nahallal, the conviction was forced upon us that the praying
agriculturists were about to meet with the fulfilment of their hopes. We
had talked of the great black clouds which had been gathering ever since
our departure as "fine atmospheric effects," and had refused to listen
to the kindly warnings of our good friends at Cana, but we looked with
some dismay at the wide, shelterless valley we must cross before
reaching the foot of Mount Tabor, where protection among the trees might
be hoped for. Fortunately, there was no wind, so the horses made no
objection to the rain, although the abrupt, rocky descent into the
valley was very slippery. The climb beyond we made on foot, partly out
of regard for our horses and partly for the pleasure of delaying at will
to enjoy the views and examine the flora.

The flowers and shrubs were very interesting, but less varied than on
Carmel; and the clouds somewhat obscured the view until we reached the
top, when a grand panorama burst upon us. It was a steep climb, for the
mountain is two thousand and eighteen feet, and the plain can be very
little above sea-level. However, the road is good, and we were rewarded
by the discovery of a dolmen, of which we have not been able to find any
record, the more interesting in that they are exceedingly rare west of
the Jordan. Fragments of walls and heaps of stones, at various levels,
show traces of earlier habitation; and, indeed, it has been lately
maintained that, at the time of our Lord, the mountain was too thickly
populated for such a scene as the Transfiguration to be at all possible.
The evidence on this point is very conflicting, and the authorities at
variance have been carefully discussed by P. Barnabé d'Alsace, who,
unlike many critics of Holy Land sites, is familiar with the locality
under consideration.[5] Lightfoot was the first to express, in 1675,
doubt on the subject, mainly on the ground that a friend of his who had
climbed the mountain said that it did not tally with the description of
Josephus. Granted, for the sake of argument, that the village of the
time of Josephus was equally large in the time of our Lord, the
existence of an ancient cemetery sets a limit to its eastern extension,
as a burial ground could never have been included within a Jewish city.
The distance from the cemetery to the edge of the plateau exceeds the
distance from the walls of Jerusalem to the Garden of Gethsemane, and
the solitude of the Agony has never been called in question.

When we reached the top of the mountain we found ourselves facing a
substantial gateway, worthy of the entrance to a park, and with a good
carriage drive beyond. Arguing, from force of habit, that a desired end
is never approached in this country by a straightforward path, and being
wet, hungry, and tired, we reflected that to climb two or three walls,
drop into a kitchen garden, and then across a long, ploughed field with
no visible means of exit, was the most likely method to bring us quickly
within reach of food and shelter. Accordingly we arrived, in time, at a
group of buildings, defended by a number of indignant dogs, from whom we
were happily separated by a locked gate. Their remonstrances brought
forth assistance, and we were finally rescued by a Greek monk, who
welcomed us kindly, although to the wrong convent. The Doctor made a
rush at some Arabic inscriptions leaning against the west wall of the
church; and, of course, we paid a visit to the church itself, within
which some remains of an ancient building are preserved, consisting of
two apses and part of a mosaic pavement, possibly belonging to the
Church of St Elias, and probably of the fourth or fifth century. A
little boy led us finally into the right path, and in a few minutes we
were within the kindly hospice of the Franciscans, and, but little
later, in the presence of a breakfast which we felt we had, for once,
earned in the sweat of our brow. A German father and a Dutch brother
supplied all our needs, and refreshed us, moreover, with much pleasant
talk, reminding us that our climb had been accomplished by the Empress
Helena "in her eighties."

The plateau is covered with ruined churches and convents, as the
mountain has been held sacred from a very early period—the earliest
known mention of it as the site of the Transfiguration being in the
Apocryphal gospel according to the Hebrews, the exact date of which is
not established more precisely than that it was known to St Ignatius,
who died in 107. The mountain is mentioned by Origen and St Jerome, and
was visited by several early pilgrims—Paula, Antoninus Martyr, our
English Willibald, and others. The earliest convent was established by
the Benedictines in 1100; but as early as the sixth century the three
tabernacles, desired by St Peter, were already built.

The Franciscan buildings, which are very simple, date only from 1873,
when the Friars Minor first obtained a footing on the mountain, the
Greeks (Orthodox) having preceded them by five or six years.

Climbing on to a platform of masonry, at the western end of the plateau,
we were much encouraged, on looking N.E. towards Tiberias in the
direction in which we were going, to observe a blue sky, and the hoary
head of Hermon gleaming bright in clear sunshine.

It was a hint to depart, and we hastened, despite intermittent "April
showers," to begin our descent, which, to our regret, had to be made by
the same path by which we had ascended. We had hoped to have enjoyed the
variety of examining the northern or eastern slope.

 [4] "English readers may be interested to know that it was by the
 intercession of the Bishop of Salisbury that Salah ed-din in 1192
 permitted the restoration of divine worship in this church. The bishop
 himself selected the priests and deacons for this office."—MICHAUD,
 "Croisades" II. p. 724.

 [5] _See_ "Le Mont Thabor: Notices Historiques et Descriptives." Paris,
 1900.



CHAPTER VI

THE SEA OF GALILEE

 "We go to the Sea of Galilee ... and although they call it a sea, it is
 neither a sea nor arm of the sea; for it is but a stank of fresh water
 ... and it hath in it great plenty of good fish, and the River Jordan
 runs through it."—SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE, 1322


It was a glorious ride from Tabor to Tiberias. The rain clouds hastened
westward, and, as we heard later, gratified the thirsty souls at
Nazareth, and left us to a thorough enjoyment of our day. We were
delighted to find ourselves off the beaten track, for the carriage road
to Tiberias was considerably to our north. We had been told, to our
satisfaction, that the alternative road by way of Tabor, as it lay a
little low, did not give us such frequent glimpses of parts of the lake,
but that we should come upon the glorious prospect all at once, and the
expectation kept us constantly on the watch. Our road lay for the most
part through well-cultivated country, belonging partly to the Bedu and
partly to the Circassians, and the wide fields, in which the corn was
springing, were a delightful and refreshing sight. We pictured what it
would be later in the year to ride, as we were assured we might, through
vegetation up to the saddle—barley, maize, sesame, doura, with yellow
marguerite and blue eryngo, and campanulas of every shade, raising proud
heads above the golden wealth. We were, however, quite content with the
garden which had been prepared for us—such an one would be, indeed,
difficult to find anywhere else, in such combination, and in the first
week of January. Perhaps one great charm of it all was that it was just
such a day, and such a spectacle, as one might enjoy, three months later
in parks and gardens at home—only glorified as to colour, size, and
fragrance, and that here all the flowers were the wild children of
Mother Nature. Capers, fennel, asparagus, and scores of balsamic herbs,
in which the bees were gaily humming, took us, in thought, into the
kitchen gardens of home, now lying under a white coverlet in winter
sleep. Here all was so warm in the sunshine that lizards, and even
chameleons and tortoises, had wakened up to greet the glad new year.

We passed the immense ruins of a fine khan of fifteenth-century
workmanship, and those of an Arab castle on a height beyond, both now
serving only as refuge to the flocks of the Bedu, who, on account of the
presence of an excellent spring, seek shelter about its walls.
Circassian and Bedawy cultivation we had seen, wide tracts in possession
of the Jews were pointed out to us at a distance, and at Kafr Sabt we
found a village of peasantry from Algeria. Somewhat to the north, the
twin peaks of Karn Hattîn looked down upon this aggregation of race and
creed—the scene, according to a tradition (not, however, older than the
sixteenth century), of the Sermon on the Mount. The same mountain has
another association, that of the battle in July 1187, in which Salah
ed-din totally defeated the Franks, and gave the death-blow to their
power in Palestine. King Guy de Lusignan was taken prisoner, the knights
were sold as slaves, the Templars and Hospitallers executed, on the very
site where, perhaps, the Master, looking down the avenue of centuries,
had said: "Blessed are the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure in
heart." Whether the blessings were any more applicable to the Christian
Crusader than to the Moslem conqueror is a point upon which the
testimony of history leaves one somewhat in doubt.

At the bottom of the valley, into which we soon descended, followed
close by a family party of Jews, who seemed glad of the protection of
our presence, we found ourselves upon a wide, fertile plain bounded by a
water-course;—that we noted the water-courses is a sign that we have
been living in arid Judæa;—and then we rose once more, and for the last
time, reaching the plateau of Ard el Hammâ, when the promised view burst
upon us. Our Jews were actually alarmed by our simultaneous shout of
delight: Khalil only smiled sardonically, quite inured to the
unaccountable pleasure which the Frenjys exhibited over what not even an
Armenian or a Government official could turn into so much as a bishlik
(value 6d.).

The Sea of Tiberias is about thirteen miles long by five to eight wide;
its proportions much those of Windermere; its form an irregular oval;
indeed, it is said that its ancient name of Kinnerôt is derived from
Kinnor, a lute, in allusion to its shape. It lies 681 feet below the
Mediterranean, so that it has an almost subtropical, and very abundant,
vegetation. The steep hills are of moderate height; but great Hermon,
looking over their shoulders at the northern end, dwarfs all else into
insignificance. There is, for the most part, but a ribbon of coast,
green with herbage and trees, and bordered with glistening sand and
shells. It is like a bonnie Highland loch, not wooded like Loch Lomond,
nor, on the other hand, bare like Coruisk, but smiling, peaceful,
inviting to repose. The very sight of such a quantity of water was
refreshing to us, coming, as we did, from a city where it is often
cheaper to drink a bottle, or even two, of wine, than to take a bath. In
little villages dotted along the shore we could fancy that we might hear
the kindly Gaelic instead of the Arabic, which has, however, many
similar sounds; the laddie herding on yonder hill is playing an
instrument "own brother" to the chanters, and snow-crowned Hermon
dominates his world like Cruachan or Schiehallion. The extreme southern
end is hidden from us, and we must advance to the very edge of the cliff
to see Tiberias lying at our feet—a long line of houses, varied by palms
and minarets. At this distance, and before bettering our acquaintance
with details, it is not difficult to reconstruct in imagination the city
which must have been, in the time of Jesus, one of the many glories of
Galilee. To realise the sheen and consistency of its beauty we have to
remember that the whole had been newly built by Herod upon a
long-deserted site; that palace and race-course and citadel and forum, a
great synagogue for the Jews (who refused, however, to enter the city),
a wall three miles long, were all new, and all part of an artistic plan.
We must remember that this was only one of nine cities, all more or less
Greek in architecture and customs, said to have contained each, at
least, fifteen thousand inhabitants—an almost unbroken chain around the
lake, now so solitary that one's eye finds with difficulty traces of
humanity otherwhere than in and about Tiberias, now a squalid townlet of
four thousand inhabitants. As Sebaste was called after Augustus, so the
name of Tiberius was given to this city—perhaps the old Rakkath. When
the foundations were laid, quantities of human bones were laid bare, and
the Jews refused to dwell in a city ceremonially unclean, so that Herod
was driven to populate his new possession with the scum of the country.
To judge from our later acquaintance with the manners and customs of the
inhabitants their descendants are still in possession, reinforced by a
still larger number of Jews, of whom, indeed, two-thirds of the
population now consists. Rich gardens once existed where now are only
swamps, beautiful to the eye, but breathing out malarial fever; and
fleets of sails met the eyes of Jesus and His fishermen friends where
now we can discover but two little rowing-boats. Khalil pointed out the
spot where, as he said, Jesus had made forty loaves of bread, and was
much hurt that we did not take a note of the story, as we had done of
other traditions. The story was true, he affirmed, and the company had
eaten them with their fish.

Our horses were in good mood to-day, and we made them descend the steep
hillside above Tiberias, by which we not only cut short the tortuous
windings of the road but obtained a quick series of points of view,
which furnished a panorama wonderful in colour and outline. The approach
has still a certain grandeur. The wall and gateway, probably entirely
ineffective as such, are picturesque in their decay. They are, indeed,
of no great age, and may even belong only to the eighteenth-century
restoration, when the town was refortified, to be again destroyed by an
earthquake in 1837. We passed some modern European buildings, including
a small but inviting little German hotel, and the hospital and manse of
the mission of the Free Church of Scotland, and, still descending,
paused before the gate of the Franciscan hospice. The rain which we had
seen ahead of us in the morning had fallen in Tiberias, and the streets
were simply ditches of dirty water, with occasional islands, upon one of
which we descended, and then, with a spring, found ourselves in the
orderly courtyard.

A hearty welcome awaited us from the Brother in charge, an old friend,
formerly gardener in the Garden of Gethsemane, and still practising his
art, as the neat flower-beds and well-trained creepers testified.

The Arabs say that the king of fleas lives at Tiberias; if so, he holds
his court elsewhere than at the hospices—here and at Et Tâbigha, where
next day we were kindly and comfortably entertained. After dinner we
climbed to the roof, and had a glorious view of the lake, and of Mount
Hermon, and of the tall palms waving in the moonlight. An epidemic of
cholera in 1903 produced a fearful mortality, amounting, it is said, to
one-fourth of the population, and of these over three-fourths were Jews,
probably owing to the extreme filth of their surroundings.

Next morning we set off, after an early breakfast, to ride up to the
north end of the lake. Our farther journey, to Besan, would take us
southward, and we were warned not to attempt the eastern shore without
an escort, as the Bedu there are very wild. We passed the neat hospital
and manse, covered with a crimson flame of bougainvillea, and shaded by
pleasant trees, with gardens sloping down to the water, and in a few
minutes were out of sight of the town, with only the blue lake, with its
green margin and surrounding hills, to feast our eyes upon. Ruins, wells
with stone enclosures, rock tombs—all speak of a past population. The
first sign of present habitation was a miserable village, said to be
Magdala. Even here some massive fragments of wall testify to earlier
prosperity. Here the shore widens out into the plain of Gennesaret,
bounded towards the south-east by a rugged hill, in which are many large
caves, formerly the stronghold of robbers, which were fortified without,
and adapted for residence by long connecting galleries, and by cisterns,
which collected water for the occupants. These bandits gave much trouble
to Herod the Great, as they were practically unassailable, the only
access to their homes being in the face of a rock eleven hundred feet
high. They were finally reached by means of lowering soldiers from the
top in cages, and were ultimately overpowered. At a later date these
fortified caverns were utilised by Josephus in his struggle with the
Romans, and still later they served as hermitages.

According to some authorities, Taricheæ is to be identified with
Magdala, though others place it farther south. Its associations are
historical and commercial, not religious. The name signifies
"pickling-place"; and the salt fish of Galilee were known throughout the
Roman Empire—large quantities were taken up to Jerusalem at feast-times,
and barrels exported to the shores of the Mediterranean. The great
draughts of fish such as we read of in the gospels must have been
brought to Taricheæ for preservation, otherwise they would have been
wasted in this subtropical climate.

A little past Mejdel our road led us down to the very edge of the lake,
where we were tempted to dismount to gather shells, which are very
beautiful and varied. The shore is fringed all the way with
oleander-bushes, "the blossoms red and bright" of Keble's poem—one of
those touches of realism in his verses which are the more remarkable
that he was never in Palestine. Khalil thought our occupation very
childish, and never could understand why we should want to walk when we
were paying for horses to ride upon. Before long we were forced to mount
again by the necessity of having to cross several streams making their
way down to the lake. The path gradually ascended till we found
ourselves following an aqueduct along a very narrow ridge at some height
above the water, just after passing the ruins of the large Khan Minyeh,
to which it had served to conduct water in the days of Salah ed-din. We
had forcible illustration of the sudden storms for which this lake has
been always known, for just as we were carefully picking our way along
our precarious path a sudden squall arose, and in a moment the wind was
whistling about us, rain was dashing in our faces, and the lake was
beating angrily upon the shore. There was an instant's question of
sheltering among the fig-trees below or of going back; but we would not
give in, and after some twenty minutes of discomfort, we came suddenly
upon a little group of buildings, obviously European. The Doctor
dismounted to beg shelter, and in a very few minutes we found ourselves
within the hospitable walls of the hospice of the German Catholic
Palæstina Verein. This was a welcome surprise; we had heard of this
mission and its hospitalities, but had not realised that we were already
at Ain et Tâbigha (possibly Bethsaida), and actually under the roof of
the well-known Father Biever, of whom we had heard so much at Madaba.

The house was in course of structural alteration, a good deal of
furniture encumbered the wide piazza, workmen were sheltering from the
rain, the Father himself was absent, but none of these difficulties
subtracted from the cordiality of our welcome. Our horses were stabled,
and we, laying aside our wraps, prepared to stay to luncheon. It was an
ideal spot: the house built upon a narrow terrace, the bank laid out in
gardens sloping down to the water's edge, the arcade covered with roses,
among which the _Maréchal Niel_ was conspicuous; abundance of flowers of
various kinds, and a friendly family of cats, dogs, ducks of the
handsome Aleppo breed, and some fine poultry and pigeons, added to the
attractions.

Our vice-host, Father Biever's companion and assistant priest, made us
soon feel at home, and we were not difficult to persuade that the rain
was far too persistent to make our return possible, and that we had
better take up our quarters in the hospice till the morrow. Khalil was
despatched back to Tiberias to relieve the anxieties of the Artist, and
we settled down, very thankful to be out of the storm.

We were greatly interested in our passing glimpse of a life which seemed
to us to have something of the practical usefulness, the
self-renunciation, of real mission work. Here were two highly-cultivated
men deliberately and permanently establishing themselves in a spot
where, for three hours' north and but little less south, they had no
single neighbour except the Bedu, and one solitary Franciscan, whose
acquaintance we were to make next day. Their own immediate household
includes some four or five Arabs who serve the hospice, and assist in
the labour of the well-kept fields and gardens, by which the house is
largely supported, and lessons of practical utility taught to the
surrounding natives. One of these was pointed out to us as the best
fisherman on the lake, and we asked him to explain the use of the nets,
which were lying under the wall of the house. He proceeded to collect
one, which seemed to be circular, perhaps twenty feet in diameter, into
large folds with his left hand. The mesh was fine, and the net, in spite
of its size, easily grasped. Transferring it to his right hand, with a
quick movement he threw the net from him, when it expanded into a large
circle, so that one easily understood how the casting of such a net
might include "a multitude of fishes."

Tristram says: "The lake swarms with fish as I could not have believed
water could swarm"; but though fourteen species are reckoned as
inhabiting the lake only four or five are ordinarily on the market.
There are some, however, of exceptional interest, not only to the
learned in such matters, but also to the merely observant like ourselves.

These include two species found nowhere else outside of the tropics—one
the _chromis simonis_, of which one species, the _chromis
paterfamilias_, for several weeks carries the eggs and the young, to the
number, it is said, of two hundred, in his mouth; the other, the
_clarias macracanthus_, which emits a sound: it was known to Josephus as
the _coracinus_. Several varieties of the _capoéta Damascéna_, the
luminous fish, are also found here.

There was so much to hear of interest that we were almost thankful to
the rain for keeping us indoors. These solitary priests have adapted
themselves to their environment in a manner which, were it more
customary among religious teachers, would be of infinite value not only
to religion but to science. One cannot think without regret of the
wealth of information lost to the archæologist, anthropologist,
philologist by the neglect of those who might secure unrivalled
opportunities of intercourse with the people, but many of whom after
years in this country, leave it as ignorant as when they came, of all
that lies beneath the surface. Our friends here, though able to converse
in, at least, three or four European languages, use Arabic as their
vernacular, speaking it even between themselves, the better to enter
into the life of the people; they are good horsemen and good shots, two
qualifications absolutely necessary for friendship with the Bedu.[6]
They possess, in addition to the animals necessary to the hospice, a
beautiful Arab mare, the gift of one of the Madaba flock, and a very
fine specimen of the Arab deerhound, not unlike an Irish deerhound in
appearance, but swift as the gazelle which it hunts, and so exquisitely
light of limb, without the hideous attenuation of the English greyhound,
that such a dog is almost invariably known as "Rischân" (feather),
feminine, "Rischi." Father Biever was originally an officer in the
German army; hence, probably, his power of organisation. He has also a
natural capacity for architecture, as is testified by the very large and
handsome Convent of St Pierre, perhaps the most effective modern
building in Jerusalem, of which he was the architect and practical
builder, in addition, it is said, to his having collected a part of the
cost in America, where he had some experience of life among the cowboys.
He made a very large collection of the flowers of the country, which,
unfortunately, was lost with the vessel in which it was sent to Europe.
It is to be earnestly hoped that his unique collection of the folklore
of the Bedu and fellahin may be given to literature.

We were fortunate in happening to be present at an interesting little
social ceremony. Our visit fell on Epiphany, and all the neighbours,
Bedu and Druse, came in the evening to celebrate the visit of the Three
Kings. The long hall was simply furnished with a table, moved aside for
the occasion, and a divan running round the walls. It was brightly
lighted, and the household servants presided over the refreshments,
which consisted of tea and some confectionery, specially made for the
occasion, of very rich and sweet pastry, some of it in the form of puffs
containing honey, and the rest in narrow rolls, which are known as "the
fingers of Mary."

The company arrived all together, men and boys (the women, of course,
being left at home), all dressed alike in the long robe, shawl, girdle,
white keffeeye, kept in place on the head by a double rope of goats'
hair, and camels' hair mantle, which many removed. Some came barefoot,
others removed their shoes on entering, and all sat cross-legged on the
divan. The household servants were Arab peasants (fellahin), and
regarded by the others as of a lower class—tillers, rather than owners,
of the soil. They were differentiated by wearing turbans, made of large,
coloured handkerchiefs twisted round the red tarbush, which is of
different shape and manufacture from those worn in the towns. Two Arab
women and the Lady were the sole representatives of their sex. The
guests were perfectly self-possessed, with none of the _mauvaise honte_
of such a gathering at home. They were perfectly easy to entertain, and
ready to converse upon any subject, although, we were assured, less
interesting than the natives east of the Jordan. The Bedu smoked when
invited—the Druses add the prohibition of tobacco to the Moslem
prohibition of wine.

When tea was handed round, the fun of the evening began. Two of the
cakes contained each a bean, and those who found themselves possessors
of the beans were king and queen for the evening; obviously a variant of
an original three beans and three kings. The queen was a young Druse,
tall and slim, with good features, and long, narrow eyes, which gave him
an expression of sleepy good nature; the king was a much quicker-witted
fellah, thick-set, with a certain piquant ugliness, and bearing the name
of Dieb, which, in Arabic, means "wolf," and which, whether in Arabic or
in German, was, we were told, equally appropriate.

In true Oriental fashion, the king issued commands through his wife, and
required services of various kinds from the assembled company, who
cheerfully complied, filled his drinking-bowl with tea or water as he
might desire, fetched his tobacco, sang to him, and danced for him. The
climax was reached when two of the men were required to serve the queen
for a horse, and the tall Druse had to proceed up the room leaning on
the shoulders of the two. The Oriental is a born mime, and the
ridiculous situation was carried off with a _savoir faire_ which only an
entire lack of self-consciousness could account for. No musical
instrument was at hand, but a little boy, of perhaps twelve, evidently a
known expert, produced an excellent imitation of the shepherd's pipe by
blowing into his fingers. We were sorry to get none of the
characteristic singing, in which, as in the Hebrides, a _motif_ is
announced by one, and taken up in chorus by the rest; but the guests
came from different villages, and, therefore, did not know the same
songs—a fact which speaks volumes for the wealth of folk-songs—a wealth
as yet very imperfectly estimated.

Nothing could have been more orderly and well mannered; the only
exception was one of those which prove the rule. A boy, of perhaps
sixteen, probably from shyness, refused to sing, upon which he was told
to go. "You have had your _Kuchen_" (it was quaint to hear the Arab
adoption of the word used among ourselves); "you have had your tea; you
will do nothing—go!" And go he did, though we were pleased to see him
slip in, half-an-hour later, by another door. When the king became
impatient of his consort's inertness he started to his feet, tore off
his head-dress, distorted his features, producing the most entire change
in his appearance, and performed a whole drama in dumb show, which, even
to the uninitiated, was extremely comic, and which produced shouts of
laughter among the Arab element of the party—the Druse and Bedu dignity
being less easily disturbed.

Arab entertainments are very long drawn out: when we retired to our
rooms, adjoining the chapel, the party showed no intention of breaking
up. The long-desired rain was a source of satisfaction, which added to
the general placidity, if not hilarity.

Next morning we awoke to a world of intense green and blue, glistening
with raindrops and glad with the singing of birds, the bulbul among the
loudest, though it must be owned that, apart from association, he is
much overrated, being vastly inferior to the nightingale or, to our
ears, the thrush or the blackbird. After an early breakfast we remounted
our horses, and, accompanied by our host, proceeded upon our interrupted
journey northward.

We noted the little landing-stage, one of those reminiscences of the
visit of the German Emperor to be found all over Palestine—sole
representative of the busy wharves and boat-builders' yards of the time
of our Lord, to which time belong also the tanneries, potteries, and
dyeing-sheds, the remains of which are scattered around Et Tâbigha.
Farther on we came upon hot springs, and the, to us, novel sight of a
hot waterfall, with the remains of mills, aqueducts, and, possibly,
baths.

In about half-an-hour we were at Tell Hûm, which, although no systematic
excavation has yet been possible, is by many authorities assumed to be
identical with Capernaum, and which, in this belief, was acquired in
1890 by the Franciscans, who, however, dare not, for political reasons,
call attention for the present to the elaborate ruins which exist not
far beneath the surface, and the workmanship of which appears to be
Roman. Meantime the soil is under cultivation for the use of the convent
at Tiberias, a solitary brother remaining there to direct the labours of
the Arabs. The low, swampy ground is unwholesome for Europeans, and it
is necessary to replace the lonely Franciscan every few months. The
authenticity of the site has been much disputed; but the cautious
Baedeker regards it as "as good as certain," largely on the authority of
the old itineraries of pilgrims. Whatever its name, it was undoubtedly a
sacred spot to the early Christians. The remains include the foundations
of a building of unusual beauty, constructed of immense blocks of white
limestone, so fine as to resemble marble, which must have been 75 feet
long by 54 wide. The bases of columns and some very ornate Corinthian
capitals are still visible, and it is not impossible that we may have
here the synagogue built by the centurion, of whom it was said: "He
loveth our nation!" The ruins, probably of a Christian church, which
were seen here in 600 are not far distant, and it is evident that a
considerable town once stood here—if not Capernaum then some other—upon
which Romans and Christians have, in turn, expended wealth and interest.

On our way back to Tiberias, we listened to many stories illustrating
the psychology and beliefs of the people; of, among other things, the
science and superstitions in regard to the horse—traditions which
deserve to be preserved. In this country, except where civilisation has
introduced bearing-reins, tail-docking, and other deformities, it is
assumed that Nature understood her own business, and that, for example,
the object of a tail was for the relief of a horse when tormented by
flies, for which purpose, as well as for beauty, the longer and fuller
it is the better. They judge of a horse's age not only by the teeth but
by the tail, which takes some years to bring to perfection. The first
year it is kept bare, the second thinned, after which it is allowed to
grow. The Arabs preserve the genealogies of all their horses, many of
them up to hundreds of generations, and their classification is very
elaborate. There was a time when only one horse existed in the country,
and he was the property of Solomon, who, however, seems to have been
imperfect in horsemanship, as he was, on a certain occasion, thrown, for
which offence against imperial dignity the horse was condemned to death.
He was ridden down from Jerusalem to Jaffa, weighted with stones, and
sunk into the sea. As he was in his death agony, five bubbles rose to
the surface, which developed into five horses, each the ancestor of a
separate type (details, as in the Genesis account of the ancestry of the
human race, not explained). Each of these stems furnished five
sub-families, and from one or other of these, every pedigree horse is
descended.

Another story which illustrated certain characteristics of native life,
and the possibility of making the most of occasion, related to a couple
of shechs who came from a great distance to consult a certain priest in
a very delicate matter. As is the custom of the country, they talked of
irrelevant matters for about four hours, and then submitted their
difficulties. Neither of them had any children—_i.e._ possessed no son,
but merely "a piece of a daughter." The phrase is equivalent to our use
in referring to "a head of cattle." The priest was well known for his
power and benevolence; surely he would exercise both in so worthy a
direction! With characteristic presence of mind he seized the occasion
for a moral lesson, and represented that certain changes of habit might
be rewarded by the desired result. The shechs promised obedience, and
departed. A year afterwards, when the incident was forgotten, the priest
called to his servant one morning to remove a sheep which had trespassed
into his garden, and was informed that this was a valuable present
brought by one of the shechs upon the occasion of the arrival of a son
and heir. Whether the other was less fortunate or less grateful history
does not relate.

On our return, we visited the Khan Minyeh, and a little east of it a
small Tell, by some identified with the site of Bethsaida, which,
however, is by other authorities located on the east side of the lake.
The towns on the shore of Tiberias have been destroyed, to a degree
surprising when we compare them with contemporary cities in the
Decapolis. In Jerash, in Ammân we were able to reconstruct the life of
the people—their homes, their temples, their amusements; in Chorazin,
Bethsaida, Capernaum, Magdala we found, at the best, heaps of stones,
and mounds grown over with grass and flowers.

In the absence of Khalil, Dieb, our friend of the night before, rode
back with us to Tiberias, as, without a local guide, we might have found
it difficult to know whereabouts to ford the many streams, which a
twelve hours' downpour had swollen to considerable size. He was very
useful and kindly, and filled the Lady's pockets with pretty shells from
the lake, some of which must have been occupied, as she found two of
them walking about, a month afterwards, in her hotel in Jerusalem.

 [6] As an illustration of the esteem in which these acquirements are
 held we were told elsewhere the following incident:—A Franciscan friar,
 accustomed to ride between the widely-scattered convents of the order,
 was, on one occasion, traversing the desert on a very powerful young
 horse not yet properly disciplined. The party met with some Bedu
 belonging to a rich and powerful tribe, the shech of which was present.
 The young horse, possibly taking fright, or excited by the presence of
 the Arab mares always ridden by the Bedu, became violent, and tore off
 across the sands. The Franciscan, a very small man, and hampered by his
 habit, nevertheless retained his self-possession and his seat, and, in
 course of time, brought the animal back to obedience. The shech watched
 every manœuvre with the deepest interest, and when the priest returned
 to the party congratulated him very cordially, and offered him his
 daughter in marriage. It was explained that he was a priest. "I don't
 mind that," said the shech; "he is just the son-in-law for me." But the
 priest was poor. "No matter, he shall have her without payment of so
 much as a single camel. I have two daughters; he shall choose between
 them: he shall be to me as a son." History goes no further.



CHAPTER VII

TIBERIAS AND BESAN

 "The River Jordan boils out from two foundations, of which one is
 called Jor and the other Dan, the streams of which, joining in one,
 become a very rapid river, and take the name of Jordan."

 SÆWULF, 1103


Of the town of Tiberias the less said the better, though it should be
admitted that we saw it under exceptional circumstances—after twelve
hours' steady rain, for which it is certainly not adapted. Most of the
streets are stone tunnels, where, when it once enters, the water stands
in large pools unaffected by sun or wind, and with only islands of
decaying matter, animal and vegetable, to serve as steps for hapless
pedestrians. In the open streets the inhabitants, with a view to
protection from sun, have rigged up coverings of old mats, old carpets,
old clothes, which, naturally, shed unsavoury drippings upon our heads
as we passed beneath. The exquisite cleanliness and brightness of our
convent quarters tempted us to stay within, and enjoy the glorious view
of lake and mountain from the roof; but we resisted, and were well
rewarded for our walk up to the Scottish hospital by the sight of good
work well and scientifically done, of missionaries who follow in the
footsteps of their Master, who has left us but one sermon, and countless
instances of work among the sick and the needy. Of the Scottish and
American missions in Palestine the English visitor can feel justly
proud, if not of his race, at least of those who speak his tongue.

The remainder of our time in Tiberias was spent, not in the world of the
Old or New Testaments, or even of the Crusaders, but in the first six
centuries A.D., when the Jews had forgotten their original hatred of its
novelty and its ceremonial uncleanness, and had accepted it, with
Jerusalem, Safed, and Hebron, as one of their four holy cities; had
established a theological university, and built over a dozen synagogues.
As at the universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, students would come
and attach themselves to this or that teacher, sitting at his feet in
his own house, or listening to his discussions with other Gamaliels in
public places. It is probable that Christ never came to this city; and,
indeed, all its personal associations are of a later period. Here
Josephus had a powerful stronghold during the Jewish wars; here, after
the destruction of Jerusalem, we find the Sanhedrin; here, testifying to
the strength and progress of Christianity, the opposition school of the
Talmud was established; here the Mishna, the collection of ancient
tradition, was published in 200 A.D.; here, some four hundred years
later, the so-called Jerusalem Talmud; here the now accepted pointing of
the Hebrew Bible came into existence—in fact, it is the cradle of Jewish
literature and learning. Its Christian associations are few. There were
bishops of Tiberias in the fifth century; but their flocks must have
been small, and the bishopric died out, to be revived by the Crusaders.
It was here that St Jerome learned Hebrew, in preparation for his work
upon the Vulgate.

We picked our way among the pools, as best we could, to the outside of
the city, and up the hill westward, asking our way to the tombs of
various learned rabbis from the Jews whom we met on the road, but who,
unless they were silent from suspicion, seemed but little acquainted
with the shrines of Maimonides, the philosopher, Rab Jochanan Ben Sakai,
or even with the celebrated Rabbi Akiba, who took so prominent a part in
the revolt of Bar Cochba, whose claims to be the Messiah he supported
with a zeal which led to the ultimate destruction of the last remnant of
the Jewish kingdom in 135.

We found the graves of the great Talmudist Rabbi Meîr and two of his
pupils in a school of the Ashkenazim, which, for the nonce, was serving
a very useful purpose as hospice for a number of German Jews travelling
to a new colony farther south. They had spread their mattresses all over
the dais, and were eating a meal which had the characteristic Jewish
smell of fish and onions.

Of course, also, we visited the celebrated hot baths, which lie about a
mile to the south of the town, in the neighbourhood of the old city, as
is testified by the columns, capitals, and hewn stones scattered in
every direction. The road seems to follow the lines of an old colonnade,
to judge from the numerous bases of pillars gradually wearing away under
the friction of carriage wheels. The water has a temperature of 143
degrees Fahrenheit, and even in the open air we found it impossible to
endure the warmth of a little spring which gushed out from the hillside
with a very unpleasant sulphurous smell. There are two general
bath-houses, in one of which private baths may be had. These are much
frequented, and seem to be very effectual in cases of rheumatism and
cutaneous disease, though, perhaps, less so than those at Callirhoe,
east of the Jordan, of which marvellous, and apparently authentic, cures
are related.

After one more night in Tiberias we set out at an early hour next
morning on our way to Besan, from whence we proposed to visit Pella,
and, crossing the Jordan, return down its eastern bank. It was a very
easy ride, of about eight hours, along a good road, with fertile fields,
greensward, and abundant trees and bushes to refresh the eye; but as it
lies, for the most part, six hundred feet below sea-level, one may well
imagine that it is, as reported, later in the season intolerably hot. In
strange contrast to the almost tropical vegetation, the palms and
bananas, the oleanders and azaleas, were the great snow-covered
shoulders of the Jebel es-Shech, the Mountain of the Shech, the highest
point of Mount Hermon, dominating the landscape, and visible, whenever
we looked backward, for the greater part of the day.

We were much interested in a Jewish family which accompanied us for some
distance on their way to the colony. The mother, grasping an infant, was
perilously balanced upon the top of the family bedding, beneath which
the legs of a mule were barely visible; while an older child, of perhaps
three, hung in a wooden box, accompanied by several gas-tins, on one
side of a donkey, balanced on the other by the family wardrobe. The men
were afoot, and generally in the rear, unless some displacement of the
baggage or a specially deep ford seemed to require some attention on
their part. The child seemed quite confident and happy, although the
donkey, less heavily weighted than the mule, was generally far ahead,
with the object of accumulating leisure for the snatching of a meal
wherever specially tempting thistles invited.

We lunched at Jisr el Mujamia, where a temporary village of tents and
wooden huts had been erected for those employed on the new
railway—engineers, fellahin, workmen, and soldiers. The River Jordan,
which we had been following almost ever since we left the Lake of
Tiberias, here divided into several parallel streams, leaving a number
of islands, now grown over with bushes and herbage, but probably covered
when the river is full. A quaint stone bridge, with very acute arches,
leading to a village, lent human interest to the scene; and on the hills
beyond we were shown the site of the town of Gadara, just south of the
Yarmuk, one of the principal tributaries of the Jordan. Here, also, are
hot springs, much visited in the season, and the ruins of another of the
Græco-Roman cities which encircle the lake, although considerably older
than the Herodian city of Tiberias. We were constantly brought face to
face with anomalies and anachronisms; but it is, nevertheless, a shock
to one's preconceived ideas to turn from the busy scene in the immediate
foreground—the skilful engineering of the new railway—to cross, in
imagination, the Roman bridge, to pass the poor fellahin village, type,
with its contrasting railway, of the civilisation of to-day, up to
where, on yonder height, it is not difficult to call up, on their old
sites, the amphitheatre of Gadara looking up the lake, the acropolis
above, the triumphal archway, the Greek villas scattered on the hills to
catch the breeze, the barracks of the Roman legions, whence the troops
descended daily to the cities around. These were what met the eyes of
Jesus when He wandered among yonder tombs and met the poor madman whose
diseased imagination conceived himself to be one of the legions whom he
daily looked upon in all their bravery of sheen and colour. And now the
fellahin are storing their grain in sculptured sarcophagi; for the grave
outlasts all, even its occupants, and the graceful wreaths which did
honour to some centurion over two thousand years ago still bloom
immortally among the haste and squalor, the railways, the canvas tents,
the wooden huts, the crumbling villages, the competition of to-day.
Beyond the Jordan, with all its associations, at the foot of the hills
which have looked on at so many cycles of change, the wounded earth
yawned and gaped, awaiting the iron road which was to carry her children
yet more rapidly to the end, which now, as of old, awaits us all. This
eastern Nature, so full of the past, is seldom glad—has, except in her
wildest utterances, little of the joy which Wordsworth found in the
simpler revelations of our English hills—but the complication of ancient
leisureliness by modern haste, of cycles of repose by the scars of
modern science, is to add irony to melancholy, cynicism to meditation,
to exhibit decay where she reveals only repose, to force utterance where
she has offered us the music of songs unsung.

We were almost glad to turn away; and soon the scene was changed. As we
continued our way due south we only now and then caught glimpses of the
Jordan, although we crossed many streams hastening down with their
little contributions to the historic whole. All was fresh and green; we
mounted, perhaps, some 300 feet, and the plain widened out into the
valley of Jezreel, and we found the air fresh and pleasant, although
when we reached Besan we were still 320 feet below sea-level. We were
free to enjoy the green earth and the blue sky without complication of
historical associations, except when, about two hours after leaving our
halting-place, we saw on a hill to our right a village now known as
Kôkab el-Hawa, where King Fulke built a castle, known by the familiar
name of Belvoir, and which was taken by Salah ed-din in 1188. We
resisted the temptation to climb, although there are ruins to
photograph, and it is said that the outlook deserves its name.

The approach to the town of Besan is truly surprising; and, indeed, the
appearance of the whole neighbourhood is unique in Palestine, owing to
the taste and activity of the mudir, who, it is whispered, remains here
for political reasons, and who has had the good sense to make his exile
as attractive as possible. The town lies in a green hollow, sloping
westward towards the low-lying plain of Jezreel, some 300 feet below.
The winding stream of the Jalûd waters it on the north, and streams flow
abundantly in all directions. The hills to the north appear to be of
volcanic formation; and, indeed, most of the rocks scattered about,
seemed to be basalt. An excellent road approaches the town, bordered for
some distance by well-planted trees, though we could not help observing
what must be very discouraging to the æsthetic mudir, that, despite all
pains taken for their security, they had been wantonly mishandled. The
main street might well be called a boulevard. It is wide, planted mainly
with acacias and the graceful azedarach (Pride of India), and the houses
are stone, and mainly of two storeys. A great archway, flanked on either
side by magnificent ancient Corinthian pillars, leads into the village
khan, a large open space, surrounded on three sides by stables and
outhouses; while on the fourth is the inn itself, the upper storey,
reserved for guests of the better class, being approached by an outside
staircase. Here we found a large hall, furnished only by low stools, and
some cupboards containing the wine and arak, theoretically eschewed by
Moslem guests; while various sleeping-rooms opened into a corridor
beyond. Here we immediately secured the requisite accommodation, which
was so far of a superior kind that it included bedsteads, as well as a
table and a couple of chairs. Experience led us at a later hour to
reject bedsteads, curtains, and bedclothes, and to sleep upon a mattress
and _lehaf_ (wadded cotton quilt) upon the floor, supplemented by our
own wraps.

We snatched a hurried meal, for we were occupied with certain ambitious
projects, which absorbed our attention. Our dream—or, at all events,
that of the Lady and the Doctor—the Artist preferred highroads and
hotels—was to descend down the east bank of the Jordan, crossing the
fords of Bethabara, and lunching at Pella, and thence to make our way
through the desert to Jericho, a two days' journey, but a far more
attractive prospect than a commonplace return _via_ Nablûs, along a road
we already knew, and which had long been vulgarised by the "Personally
Conducted." The greatest attraction of all was, that, in the absence of
villages, and having no tents, we should have to pass a night with the
Meshalcha Bedu, who, we were told, were at this time encamped north of
the Jabbok. They are a rich and powerful sept, belonging to the Beni
Hasan, and their district lies about the tomb of the great Moslem
general, Abu Obeidah Ibn el Jerrâh, of the time of Omar (_c._ 650). We
were so very fortunate as to carry introductions from Dr Schumacher, who
is, perhaps, better known east of the Jordan than any other European,
and whose relations with the Bedu, as well as with the fellahin, are
very different from those of the many who have been only unfortunate in
their dealings with the natives. We were delighted at our prospects, and
pictured ourselves listening to songs and folklore, gathered round a
camp fire in the moonlight, pouring libations of coffee to the spirit of
Shech Shadli, the originator of the beverage, giving up our revolvers in
token of confidence in our hosts, looking on at the sword-dances of the
young men, exchanging confidences with the women, and finally sleeping
under a roof of camels' hair, upon priceless carpets and under silken
coverlets.

To achieve this we must go in state, and the main thing was to enlarge
our retinue, which consisted at present of the somewhat ragged Khalil,
by the addition of a soldier, who would receive orders to make all the
demands which were in accordance with our dignity—a fact not patent to
the naked eye, but which the mudir instructed by our kind friend the
American Consul, would doubtless accept. First we had to find the mudir,
who was not at his own house, a fine modern building with large garden
adorned with antique busts, and not at the serai (court-house), but who
was finally discovered making his afternoon devotions at the mosque. He
was good enough to emerge with a train of attendants, a dignified man of
middle age, carefully read the letter addressed to him, and assured us,
in passable French, that our request should receive attention, and that
the soldier would be at our service at six o'clock next morning.

We were then free to visit the sites which were the main object of our
journey to Besan. The name Besan, which we now associate with the most
beautiful city in Palestine, had for us at first no associations, and we
did not feel any great excitement even when told that it was a strong
and walled city in the time of Joshua, that the inhabitants had chariots
of iron, which might well be used on the surrounding plain, nor even
that it was to the wall of Beth-shean, as it was then called, that the
bodies of Saul and his three sons were nailed, his armour being hung up
as an offering in the temple of Astarte. But as we pursued our
inquiries, the story of the city gained in interest. Thothmes III. must
have passed through it when he overthrew one hundred and eighteen cities
in Palestine, as it stands on the highway between Egypt and Damascus; it
is mentioned in Egyptian literature in the fourteenth century B.C.; the
Israelites found it impregnable; Holofernes, Pompey, Salah ed-din,
occupied it, possibly also Tiglath-pileser and Sargon. Josephus calls it
the richest city of the Decapolis, the only one west of the Jordan. In
his time it was called Scythopolis, and it is one of the very few
examples of reversion from the Greek to the older name. On the coins
(Nero to Gordian), and by classical authors, the town is called Nysa,
and the effigy on the coin is that of the nymph suckling Bacchus; but
the present name, corrupted from Beth-Sha'an, possibly the _house_
(_beit_) of some pagan divinity, has been used since the Crusades.

Lastly, for the Christian, Besan has its special interest, as having
been one of the places where, under Decius and Diocletian, the
amphitheatres were used for the cruel slaughter not of wild beasts
alone, but of the confessors of Christ. When we stood gazing at the
majestic amphitheatre, with its twelve basalt benches for spectators,
nearly two hundred feet in diameter, we imagined the Christian gladiator
looking over the sea of heads which surrounded him to where the blue
sky, and the blue hills of Gilead, gave promise of something which
should endure when even yonder citadel, frowning to the north, had
crumbled in decay. Delicate ferns and flowers now shroud the entrance to
the dark passages leading to the dens, where one may still see the iron
rings to which the beasts were chained; and in the recesses in which
brass sounding-tubes facilitated the hearing of the roar of anger and
the shriek of pain, swallows are darting in and out to chirping
nestlings, impatient for their food.

We failed to find the hippodrome, said to lie west of the village, but
now concealed by vegetation. The lines of a fine colonnade are easily
traced, leading along the brook to an ancient bridge, beyond which is a
street, and near by a massive fort; north of this a reservoir, known as
El Hammâm, obviously the site of Roman baths. Everywhere are columns,
capitals, hewn stones. North of the great amphitheatre a Tell cries out
for excavation, the massive wall and the great portal which once
enclosed its summit being clearly traceable. Everywhere, in the hills
beyond, are tombs, many with fine painting and sculpture. Where can the
archæologist find richer promise? There is, happily, a rumour that it is
one of the many sites likely to be taken in hand by German skill and
perseverance. The very fact that Besan is, at least for the present,
well out of the tourist track has preserved the ancient, perhaps also
the modern, city, from exploitation. Unfortunately, the railroad will
soon be here, and who knows how long this beautiful city may escape all
the influences which have corrupted and vulgarised Jerusalem?

Besan is at present purely Moslem: there are a few Christian
inhabitants, mainly of the Greek Church, who seek occasional spiritual
pabulum in Tiberias, only eight hours away, and who seem to enjoy equal
rights with, and even to share some of the beliefs of, their neighbours.
We saw, for example, a very interesting wely, which, like so many, if
not most, in Syria, is resorted to by those of all creeds. It was, as
usual, very difficult to obtain any exact information as to its history
and origin. The tomb, apparently of a giant of ten feet or so, is a
massive stone structure enclosed with a rough stone wall and surrounded
by trees. The derwish in charge lives close by. The tomb and enclosure
are decorated with numerous small flags, mainly white, the offerings of
the faithful. We managed—not without difficulty—to photograph it
secretly, both from within and without. We could only ascertain that it
was sacred to a certain Bishop Jochanan, who, although our informants
were somewhat confused as to details, seems to have been an apostate
from Christianity, and a miracle-worker. The wely serves purposes other
than religious. It is much resorted to for the healing of the sick and
for obtaining special boons; but it is also supplementary to the serai,
and saves many a lawsuit, as an oath made upon the tomb must be accepted
as final, and he would be a very foolhardy man who would lie to the
saint, whatever might be the degree of his reverence for the Almighty!
Every Moslem tomb (exclusive, naturally, of those of women, who are a
mere accident in the course of nature) is surmounted by two stones, for
the accommodation of the good and bad angels respectively, who testify
as to his conduct; one at least of these is of the shape of the fez or
tarbush, which was the characteristic sign of faith and nationality
during life. In the present case this feature is exaggerated in
proportion to the size of the tomb, so that the whole roughly resembles
the outline of a horse, the tarbush being taken for the head. The
suspected culprit, or other person about to swear, sits astride, and
makes oath accordingly. The saint is, moreover, the peacemaker in feuds,
and the most persistent cases of blood-revenge must be abandoned when
the opponents have shaken hands across the tomb. A man who here denies
or confesses a crime receives judgment accordingly, without further
evidence. There seemed to be traces upon the doorposts of recent
sacrifices, with the usual accompaniment of anointing with blood.

Perhaps nothing that we saw upon our ride surprised us more than the
information that a large and handsome stone house in the town belonged
to a Bedawy shech—a shech of shechs. One would have supposed that such a
possession violated every instinct and tradition of his race, for we had
once been present when an elderly Bedu, who had been forced by
politeness to accept hospitality in a house for the first time, had sat
in terror of what might happen, gun in hand. We sought in vain to
account for such an anomaly. "Is he very rich?" we inquired, on the
hypothesis that some crisis of agricultural depression had driven him to
a more permanent investment. "Rich?" said our informant; "he can be as
rich as he likes. Is he not the shech above all other shechs of the
district? He wants a house, a camel, a tent? He takes it. He wants a
wife—he may have had already twenty-nine. He takes my sister, my
daughter, but he does not pay for her. It is not difficult for him to be
rich."

Nay, truly,

             "The good old rule
 Sufficeth him, the simple plan,
 That they should take who have the power
 And they should keep who can."

It was the rule of David, of Solomon, of the nomadic Israelites
wandering like the Bedu in the desert.

 "Then rents and factors, rights of chase,
 Sheriffs, and lairds and their domains,
 Would all have seemed but paltry things,
 Not worth a moment's pains."

But, of course, this is quite another matter from the oppression of the
poor, the rack-renting, the evictions, the unequal taxation, the results
of free trade, the hunger and misery of great cities, the depopulation
of villages, which are carried on in an orderly and properly organised
fashion farther West.

We would have gladly lingered in this beautiful spot, surely the garden
of Palestine, so great a contrast to the aridity of Judæa, which Mark
Twain has somewhat severely described as "leagues of blighted, blasted,
sandy, rocky, sunburnt, ugly, dreary, infamous country." We are apt to
look upon the Jews as a utilitarian and money-loving people. Surely,
however, nowhere on earth can we find a race whom sentiment and religion
have so influenced in the choice and love of home. We Europeans do not
realise that the great King Solomon, who reigned over a people "like the
dust of the earth in multitude," and whose wealth made "silver to be
nothing accounted of," had for empire part of a kingdom the size of
Wales; and that, allowing all that one may for change of agricultural
conditions, his capital was situated in its most unprofitable and one of
its least attractive districts—six hours' ride from the nearest river,
of which the average width was eighty feet; a district without a
harbour, on the way to nowhere, out of reach of all the great roads of
commerce and intercommunication of nations. Jerusalem owes her origin
and continuance entirely to the heart and not the brain of man. She is
the creation of the prophet, the priest, the dreamer. The mere
statesman, agriculturist, sanitarian—humanitarian, even—would have none
of her. Even to-day she survives only as a matter of sacred association.
Take away her sanctuaries, her convents, and her tourists, and nothing
would be left but the German colony—which could not remain without
customers for its shops, or even maintain its institutions—and the Jews,
who live mainly on the charity of Europe. Agriculture, Jewish and
German, would continue in the plains; philanthropy, Scottish and
American, in Galilee and Syria; education and culture, American and
Jesuit, in Beirut; commerce, German and Jewish, in Jaffa and Haifa; but
all these exist independently of, almost in spite of, Jerusalem, and
have been created for the advantage of mankind.



CHAPTER VIII

WEST OF THE JORDAN

 "Yet who would stop, or fear to advance,
 Though home or shelter he had none,
 With such a sky to lead him on?"

 W. WORDSWORTH


Very few things in the East fulfil adequately the purposes for which
they are intended, and we were not at all surprised when the soldier,
who arrived punctually at six o'clock next morning, and who had many
graces, and possibly all the virtues, appeared mounted on a horse
utterly unfit for the fatiguing journey we contemplated. We accordingly
despatched him back to the serai, with thanks and compliments, and a
message to the effect that we should prefer a better article. These
little matters consume a great deal of time, and a proportionate amount
of bad language, and to economise the one, and avoid the other, we went
for a walk. Our kindly companion, who had been for some years a
dispenser in the Scottish hospital in Tiberias, seemed to think there
would be no objection to a trespass into the grounds of the mudir's
private house, and obligingly lent a hand while we collected the antique
busts which were dispersed about his garden, and arranged them on garden
seats with a view to photography. It is not every day one comes across
half-a-dozen perfect specimens of Greek art never photographed before;
and so obliging an amateur of beauty as the mudir had proved himself,
would assuredly have understood and pardoned our temptation had he been
up, which (perhaps happily, as some element of doubt remained) he was
not. We then walked somewhat farther, feasted our eyes once more upon
all the pleasant things of Besan, classical and modern, and when on our
return we still found the incompetent steed tied up at the entrance to
our khan, we wandered off to the serai, and finally possessed ourselves
of an alternative soldier, although with some suspicion that this time
it was the man, and not the horse, who was incompetent.

Neither Khalil nor the Artist had a high opinion of the plan cherished
by the Lady and the Doctor—one feared scarcity of barley for the horses,
the other of the amenities of civilisation for herself. The Artist,
however, could not speak Arabic, so if there were any collusion with the
officer it could only have been on the part of Khalil. We had not,
however, gone far from Besan, only far enough to be beyond reach of
appeal, when we were presented with a series of pictures of the
impossibilities ahead. No one knew where the Meshalcha Bedu were at
present encamped—the place where they would undoubtedly be found was
quite beyond a day's journey; we had started too late (it was already
eight o'clock) to venture on so great a risk; it was not certain how we
should be received. The consequences to ourselves were painted in vivid
colours, but all these observations had for us an interest that was
merely psychological and linguistic, as exhibiting the way in which the
Arab mind worked. The Arab imagination was not daunted, however, and the
next shot told. The fords of the Jordan would be impassable—had we not
seen how full the Jalûd was, had not the little stream we had even now
crossed reached to the knees of the horses, had not all the streams been
drinking away there up in the hills, where Allah had so lately sent us
the blessing of rain? The Lady and the Doctor looked guiltily at each
other. The one put confidence in Sadowi, the other in his own inches;
but if they should find they had inveigled the Artist into floating down
the Jordan with not so much as an insurance upon her kodak! The Lady,
somewhat disingenuously, began to enlarge upon the prospect of visiting
Pella, in hope of extracting an expression of desire, which might be
quotable in case of emergency; but her friend showed no enthusiasm for
Greek cities, declined to endorse ravings over early Christian refugees,
and asked if any other way were shorter. Khalil's honour was appealed
to, as to the veracity of the soldier's allegations. He swore upon his
beard, which he did not possess, and upon his eyes, of which only one
was in working order, upon his head and his heart, that the thing was
impossible.

What were we to do? Go meekly back to Besan, abandon all our prospects,
our tent of many poles (we had been assured that we must not think of
entering one with less than three, and that our dignity really required
even more), our tattooed ladies with the trains of their dresses in
front, our stately shech, who would undoubtedly kill a sheep and bake
cakes for us, like the patriarchs did when they had guests—return to the
banalities of Nablûs, where children asked for backsheesh, and finally
ride home along a commonplace highroad to Jerusalem?

"When the tale of bricks is doubled Moses comes," say the Arabs—and the
soldier had an idea. We were to descend the banks of the Jordan on the
west side. We had been assured that no one ever did this, that the
district was very wild, and even lawless, and that the few Bedu we might
chance to meet were such as we should not care to house with. However,
we had our soldier, who looked effective (at a distance), and was
bristling with weapons, and it would be quite interesting to sleep in
the desert, light a fire to keep off wild beasts, and take turns to
mount guard, like a boys' story book. Apparently, however, it need not
come to this. Somewhere in the wilderness was a serai, a little fortress
or Government building, which existed for the accommodation of
tax-collectors, and there we could, no doubt, find shelter. We were
somewhat inclined to believe that the whole thing was "a put-up job,"
arranged before we left, and that our soldier's journey was being
utilised for conveying despatches, or more, probably, messages, from the
parent Government establishment in Besan. However, we could only submit;
had we persisted, our leader was not so unintelligent as not to see that
his prophecies were fulfilled, and we wheeled round, and turned off to
the south-east, fairly content with our prospects after all.

We had followed the west side of the Jordan from the Sea of Tiberias to
Besan, and now we were to follow it down to its fall into the Dead
Sea—65 miles in all. Our path lay in the deep valley between the hills
of Gilead on the east and the hills of Samaria and Judæa on the west—a
valley which the Arabs very suitably call _El-Ghor_—_i.e._ The Rift. It
varies in width from 6 or 7 miles in the district of Besan to about 3
for some 13 miles alongside the hills of Samaria, widening by slow
degrees till near Jericho, when it stretches out into a plain, as at
Besan. The river winds and twists deep down at the bottom, its course
marked all the way by an exuberant fertility, often extending for some
distance east and west, showing where tributary streams are hastening
down from the watersheds above. We rode, for the most part, upon
somewhat higher ground, on terraces of land at the foot, or on the side
of, the hills, as the case might be, and were often able to look down
into this deep hollow of vivid green, reminding us, in exaggerated form,
as so much in this land is exaggerated, of a north country ghyll. To
realise its depth one has to remember that it is deeper below the
earth's surface than an average coal mine, that it is really an old
sea-bottom, and that the rapidity of the stream, falling at first 40
feet in a mile, accounts for the weird forms of washed-out mounds of
earth, for the exposed tree roots, for the heaps of débris of all kinds.
The name of the Jordan is not composed of the two names Jor and Dan, as
the early pilgrims so ingeniously conjectured, but means, appropriately,
the "downcomer."

For some distance, all around and below Besan, there are abundant signs
of extreme fertility. In ancient times it was noted for corn, dates,
balsam, flax, and sugar-cane. The edicts of Diocletian refer to its
trade in linen, and Vespasian settled his troops in this district as one
capable of bearing a large additional population. In the course of the
morning we crossed over a score of streams, and many remains of
aqueducts showed how, in old days, they had been turned to the utmost
account for irrigation. When we had passed but a few miles beyond Besan,
we lost all traces of human habitation, although not of human handiwork,
for wide patches of well-cultivated land testified that, like the
Israelites of old, the hill population only comes down to sow, guard,
and reap its harvests. Indeed, for the greater part of the year the Ghor
would be uninhabitable. Its hothouse vegetation implies also a hothouse
climate; its swamps are beautiful but malarious; its streams are
valuable for irrigation but death-dealing to drink, impregnated with
chlorides and sodium, and rank with decaying vegetable matter.

From time to time we came across small groups of Bedawy tents, mainly of
a humble kind, although now and then a tent of three poles, with a lance
planted at the doorway, testified to the presence of a shech. Within but
a short distance we were certain to find large flocks of lambs, white
and woolly, a rare sight to us, accustomed only to the goats capable of
enduring the aridity of the Jerusalem district, and familiar with sheep
only as household pets, sharing equally with the cat and the water-pipe.
The problem which at first presented itself was: What had become of all
the mothers? The answer was generally found a mile or so farther on, in
some green spot, whither they had been driven for pasture, to be brought
back later, to the safety of the camp, and the needs of their nurslings.

It seemed to us that we now and then climbed hills for the sake of
descending them, and that more than once we went across country to
return to the neighbourhood of the point from which we started; but,
after all, it is difficult to judge of distances with only distant
mountains for landmarks, and one part of such a valley as the Ghor is
very much like another. We were to lunch beside the Wady Mâlih, the
first stream on this part of our journey suitable alike for horse and
man, but the wady was long in coming. At intervals we inquired as to its
whereabouts, and were always told it was _ba'ad wahad saar_—"after
half-an-hour"—and after about four half-hours, when the horses were
getting somewhat weary, and our eyes ached from the glare of the sand,
we entered a narrow valley, a wonderful garden of loveliness. For some
time we had seen no animal life except lizards, an occasional jerboa (a
pretty little miniature kangaroo), and occasional birds of prey—ravens,
eagles, and griffon-vultures—flying high in the heavens towards some
horse or camel, dead or dying. Here, at the very entrance of the valley,
we disturbed innumerable pairs of busy little chats, among the daintiest
of the bird creation (_saxicola libanotica_); and, almost equally
graceful as to outline, although of a reddish-brown colour, like a
robin, the little desert larks, which chattered rather than sang, as
they hovered over the tangle of bulrushes and sedge-grass.

Now and then we saw a gorgeous kingfisher, blue as sapphires,
turquoises—blue as the sky itself. A little later we should probably
have found storks, "the father of legs" as the Arabs call them, who
arrive in the early spring in immense numbers, and add to the general
fairy-tale effect of this country. The stream was concealed by a thicket
of verdure, bordered, on slightly higher ground, by oleanders and
willows, above them a belt of white poplars and tamarisks; while the
steep, sloping banks were clothed with the bushes of the graceful
capers, just coming into leaf, rival, in Palestine, of our own wild
rose; while everywhere chrysanthemums, ornithogalums, scented stocks,
hawkweeds, and centaureas promised abundance of colour if we would but
await their coming.

We clamoured for an immediate halt—where could we find so inviting a
spot?—but our attendants turned a deaf ear, and pressed on, gradually
mounting to higher ground, and leaving our beautiful, but probably
malarious, swamp behind. We dismounted finally on a little knoll crowned
with trees, the stream, now clear of foliage, and accessible for the
horses, winding about its foot, and a gay little waterfall making music
for us beyond. Here we lunched and rested, and then we had an
illustration, characteristic of this country, of the wild-beast habits
of the Arab. We are well accustomed to the fact that real solitude is
here, in an ordinary way, impossible. You may scan the horizon, and see
no sign of humanity for miles, but within a few minutes a picturesque
Arab is beside you, asking impudently for backsheesh, insinuating that
the hour is propitious for the smoking of tobacco, or offering you water
or milk, according to the degree of his association with the improving
influences of European civilisation. In the desert the Arab is still a
gentleman, and the little group which suddenly appeared within a few
feet of us—though for a dozen miles at least we had not seen so much
humanity as might be implied by the presence of a single goat—offered no
incivility, although they were mainly women, and therefore, as a rule,
inferior in courtesy to the men. They did not even stare unduly; in
fact, not half so much as we did at them. It is a curious and invariable
fact that here, Arabs spring out of the earth, like London boys at an
accident.

We did not feel entire confidence in our cicerone, as such; and as it
was already late we dared not linger, and by three o'clock we had
mounted our horses, forded the Mâlih, and, mounting the steep acclivity
beyond, found ourselves on high ground, which is the watershed for the
innumerable wadys which wander down to the sinuous Jordan on our left.
Hence we could look back to the hoary head of the Jebel es-Shech, of
Mount Hermon, and forward to the Jebel Osha in the Belka; while on the
hither side a break in the hills showed where the river Jabbok, another
old friend of our last ride, was working its winding way down to the
Jordan. If we had but known it—such information being far from the
thoughts and interests of our escort, even had they known it
themselves—we ought to have turned aside some four hours later to see
the caverns of Makhrûd, which are, so far as we can learn, valuable
alike to the geologist, and to the student of natural history.

However, we kept on our way, on somewhat high ground, till we entered a
fertile valley, tending gradually to the south-east, and which our
escort saluted with joy as the Wady Faria, in which our quarters for the
night were situated. Here, _ba'ad wahad sa'a_—"after one hour"—we should
be at the end of our journey. Well-cultivated fields surrounded us, and
even climbed the hill beyond, evidences of the existence of a population
which remained invisible: not a tent, not a single human being was in
sight. We descended yet deeper, the hour passed, and yet another, and we
found ourselves in a wide plain, which we crossed to the eastward.
"Ba'ad nus sâ'a" was now the promise—"after half-an-hour"; varied after
yet another hour by "ba'ad chamseh sâ'a"—"after a quarter of an hour."
Our guide had clearly gone too far west, and had struck the wady at the
point farthest from our destination. The twilight fell, and it was then
clearly evident that we had lost our way. The soldier had the sense to
follow the stream, as likely to conduct us ultimately to our
destination; but we had lost the path, and it was sorely rough riding.
Darkness descended with true Oriental abruptness; moon there was none,
and clouds obscured the stars. Suddenly Sadowi, who was foremost,
declined to move, and the Artist's horse stumbled; the men got off, and
felt the ground. We were on the edge of a precipice, the horses were
already entangled in the rough brushwood, a perpendicular wall rose to
our right—to turn back was impossible. The ladies dismounted, and placed
themselves on a ledge of rock, out of the way of the uneasy horses.
Khalil, afraid for the safety of his animals, broke forth into violent
abuse of the soldier, whose curses, in return, were not loud but deep.
The Doctor commanded silence, some of which he utilised for the
expression of his own opinions. After much searching, in all the wrong
places, some candles were produced, and lighted, upon which the rain
most unexpectedly descended in torrents, and put them out. Anything,
however, seemed better than inaction: two of us finally contrived, by
means of holding the candles within our cloaks to shed enough light in
front of us, to make some kind of progress; while the soldier with
another went ahead. Khalil followed with the five horses, who picked
their way with their usual cleverness, unencumbered except by
saddle-bags, which now and then caught upon the bushes, and were
disengaged with a jerk which would have reduced anything, but goats'
hair, to rags. We contrived, somehow, to reach the top of the bank, and
were much cheered to see, a mile or so ahead of us, a flickering light,
and to hear the barking of dogs—always a welcome sound when one is in
the dark and far from shelter. After half-an-hour of very rough
scrambling we found ourselves again upon a path, which conducted us
direct to the welcome light. This we found to proceed from a great fire
in the midst of a Bedawy camp—a weird spectacle in such surroundings. We
were challenged at various points by their scouts: _shislu?_—"Who goes
there"; but, fortunately, the reply: _sahib_—"A friend"—appeared to be
satisfactory. When we came into the camp we were immediately surrounded
by the inquiring population, who offered no discourtesy; all the same,
we considered it wise to keep an eye upon the contents of our
saddle-bags. The open space was encumbered with cows and sheep, and the
glare of an immense bonfire added to our bewilderment. The children and
women gathered round us, and touched our clothes, though with far more
gentleness than would be shown in London to, say, a group of Australian
natives—and we must have seemed not less strange to our new friends. The
serai was yet far, they averred, the night was dark, the road was rough;
would we not remain with them? We escaped their kindly importunity with
what grace we could, and left Khalil to bargain for a guide—a process
quite as characteristically grasping as their would-be hospitality was
characteristically liberal. Khalil offered a bishlik (6d.); they held
out for four piasters (8d.); finally a compromise was effected upon a
bishlik and a packet of tobacco. We may remark that when, at the end of
the drama, we produced the tobacco from our stores Khalil intercepted
the gift, and stipulated that it should not be bestowed till the Bedu,
whose activity had been stimulated at the sight of so unwonted a luxury,
had helped him to water the horses. We were soon picking our way among
ruins too dark to distinguish, but which we believe to have been those
of the ancient Archelais, erected by Herod Archelaus, the son of Herod
the Great. Before long we were on a good path; the rain stopped, the
stars came out, the Lady remounted her horse, and the spirits of the
party rose again. Soon we were cheered by the steady gleam of a
stationary light, and finally we clattered over a bridge and under a
great gateway, and found ourselves in the court of the serai.

We received a friendly welcome from a gigantic negro, and were at once
shown into a large room, with windows high up near the roof, and a door
opening into the courtyard, around three sides of which the house was
built; while the fourth was enclosed with a wall the height of the
building, with a strong iron-clad door—everything, apparently, being
arranged with a view to security. An official, said to be the lawyer or
secretary of the establishment, politely vacated the guest-room on our
behalf. Our saddle-bags were brought in, and, well content with shelter
and the prospect of food, we prepared to make our arrangements for the
night, our room being already not ill-furnished, all things considered,
with a large rush mat and a lamp. Our host, however, proposed further
hospitalities. We were well supplied with water, then with a charcoal
stove for heating our soup, and finally with excellent and spotlessly
clean bedding. The arrival of guests at so late an hour proved somewhat
disturbing to the domestic animals housed in the courtyard, who crowed,
and quacked, and barked, and mewed, according to their nature. Khalil
came in to say good-night, the Bedu to be paid, the gigantic negro to
inquire after our comfort, various black and white cats to solicit alms;
but finally all was quiet, and we had not long to wait for sleep.

We were up betimes next morning, and enjoyed an early toilet beside the
Fâria, not without a passing thought of pity for friends in England, and
the different conditions which would make it less attractive there to
rise at half-past five on the 10th of January, and bathe in a mountain
stream. We were in the rich oasis of Karâwa, the Koreæ of Josephus,
famous in ancient times for the finest sugar-canes known. Westward rose
the great peak of the Karn Sartabeh, towering 2227 feet above us,
although only 1243 feet above sea-level. This was one of the chain of
peaks upon which, in old times (according to the Talmud), beacon fires
were lighted at the time of the new moon, especially to proclaim the
harvest and thanksgiving festivals. The top is covered with ruins,
which, with much else in this practically unknown district, we hope some
time to explore thoroughly.

Khalil, who had slept out all night, to take care of his horses,
complained loudly of the cold; but our soldier, whom everyone here
addressed as "Haj," denoting that he had made the Mecca pilgrimage, was
quite cheery and unashamed, probably much relieved that we had entered
no complaint of his incompetence at the serai. Khalil assured us of his
own entire ability to take charge of the party; but as the infallible
Baedeker says that for the journey in the west Jordan valley "an escort
is indispensable," we decided to take our soldier on to Jericho. His
weapons, though rust-eaten, looked quite effective, and for anything we
knew his gun might really have gone off in an emergency, or as the kind
friend in Jerusalem who provided part of our own armoury had advised,
when a good echo made it "worth while to bang away."

The greatest interest to-day lay in the number of Tells, which might
well repay more careful attention than has yet been bestowed upon them,
and which indicate that, in spite of the forcing-house temperature of
this district, it must have been at one time fairly well populated.

Our curiosity was aroused by a group of large birds perched on a rock at
some little distance, and apparently motionless. We shouted at them, but
they declined to rise. We discovered through our field-glasses that they
were vultures, at least a score in number, and included a pair of young
ones, no bigger than hens, and of a creamy white.

We were not long in reaching the pleasant Ain Fesail, the head of the
Wady Fesail, which runs down into the Wady el Abyad, and meets the
Jordan in the valley some two or three miles below. Here were wide green
meadows, shady trees, and abundance of water, which, for the first time
since last night's adventures, incited our horses to some return of
cheerfulness. We had time to linger and to explore the adjacent ruins of
Phasælis, and the animals were relieved of all their encumbrances that
they might enjoy a roll in the fresh grass. The Lady rejoiced especially
on behalf of Sadowi, who had been lately so much depressed that she had
conceived the theory that the journey, which, owing to circumstances,
had been slow, and therefore in some respects tedious, had been too much
for him. She had even shown a sentimental desire to walk up hills, had
not the Doctor sternly refused to remount her should she carry it into
effect. Whether a whole field of grass all at once had the effect of
intoxication upon a Jerusalem horse—the chance of a lifetime—or whether
it suddenly dawned upon him that yonder were the hills of Judæa, and
that he was, therefore, within twenty-four hours of home, we shall never
know, but the steady Sadowi suddenly threw care, not to say
respectability, to the winds, and started on a _fantasia_ of his own. He
tore off like a war-horse at sound of the trumpet, a hunter at sight of
the hounds, a saucy colt in the meadows. The other horses, stimulated by
evil example, executed minor interludes; Khalil and the haj scampered
right and left, and one by one brought in the truants, all but the
ringleader, Sadowi, who entirely refused to be caught, and we advised
Khalil to desist, in the hope that he would return of his own accord.
Some time later, a shout from Khalil roused our attention, and we saw
him leading in a sedate and repentant Sadowi by the halter. "He ran and
ran from me like the devil himself," explained his master, with some
confusion of ideas, "when all at once he became afraid, and stood and
trembled." The Lady seized the occasion to express a hope that this came
from no recollection of previous ill-treatment, upon which Khalil threw
his arms round the creature's neck, and kissed him passionately. He
kicked and swore at him a few minutes later, but the horse seemed
equally indifferent to both processes.

The ruins close by are those of Phasælis, a town which Herod the Great
named after his brother Phasælus, and which he presented to his sister
Salome, who left it to her friend, Julia Livia, the wife of the Emperor
Augustus. It stood beside the excellent highroad which we had for some
time been following, and which seems to have extended the whole way from
Jericho up to Cæsarea Philippi, at the foot of Mount Hermon, and near
the source of the Jordan, probably bordered by a forest of palms, at one
time extensively cultivated here. The town has no architectural beauty,
but, like the twin town of Archelais, is delightfully situated.

It was unfortunate that we had not been advised to make the slight
detour up to the foot of the hills to visit the ruins of El Aujeh, and
still more that we missed the caverns of Es Sumrah, some ten miles
south, described by Tristram. They are sand-stone quarries, resembling
those known as Solomon's quarries in Jerusalem, and have been worked so
as to resemble huge grottoes. Tristram counted fifty-four pillars still
left, and gives an interesting description of the traces of the wild
beasts by which they are at present tenanted, and of the bones of
camels, oxen, and sheep, which had been their victims.

The ride over the wide plain was exhilarating. Some of the party could
now press forward, as we were nearing a more frequented district, and
even the Lady was convinced that there was no need to spare the horses.
As we neared Jericho we found ourselves enveloped in a sudden
dust-storm, and had to give up certain schemes for botanising in the
neighbourhood. Even next morning we were warned to be off without delay,
in order to secure good weather for the ride to Jerusalem.

The last scene of our drama reminded us, effectually, that we had got
back to "the cab-shafts of civilisation," as represented by the Turkish
Government. We found the courtyard of the Inn of the Good Samaritan
crowded with soldiers, and the level ground all about with laden
donkeys; while excited fellahin shouted and cursed and quarrelled, or—a
sight rare and pathetic among Arabs—sat still. They were peasants from
the village of Bethany, returning home with corn from Moab, and
intercepted by the tax-gatherers, who saw an excellent opportunity for
their business. One poor wretch who had sought to escape them by making
his way round through the hills had been seized, and was now in custody
in the inn-yard. The worthy host was absent, but was efficiently
represented by his two little boys, who ought to have been playing
marbles or whipping tops, but were, instead, keeping up the character of
the establishment, and perfectly capable of dealing with the problems
before them, even to catching the chickens and turkeys, and shutting
them up that they might not be robbed by the soldiers, who were here to
see that the peasants were effectually robbed by the tax-gatherers,
while they, the little boys, in turn showed considerable experience in
robbing their guests.

From the point of view of the continuity of history and the
homogeneousness of humanity it is at least interesting to know that even
now, with all modern improvements of robbers licensed, uniformed, and
salaried, one may still go down from Jerusalem to Jericho and be quite
certain of falling among thieves.

But the storm did not come. The sun was bright, the air was clear, kind
friends awaited us in Jerusalem, and we were content to believe that the
desert of life has many oases:

 "Is not the pilgrim's toil o'erpaid
 By the clear rill and palmy shade!"



INDEX


 Abbasides, 110

 'Abd el hamīd Bey, 104, 133

 Abdallah, 182, 191

 Abisha, 198

 Abraham, 24, 177, 202, 209, 222

 Abu-dis, 5

 Acacias, 22, 253, 311 (_farnesiana_, _tortilis_, _seyal_)

 Academy of France, 61, 62

 Acre or Akko, 247, 252, 256

 Acropolis, 238, 308

 Adam Smith, Professor George, 72, 202, 204, 235

 Adonis, 253

 Adummim, 9

 Adwân, 118

 Ægean, 234

 Agriculture, elementary, 125, 146

 — English, 227

 — German, 248

 — scientific, 38

 Ahab, 204, 205, 215

 Ahaziah, 235

 Ain Es-Shech, 160, 167

 Ain Es-Sultan, 14

 Ain El-Mastaba, 146

 Ain et Tâbigha, 287 (_see_ Bethsaida)

 Ain Fesail, 341

 'Ajlûn, 100, 127

 _Akal_, 4, 24, 48

 Al Chirnik, 66

 Alexander, 199

 Alexander the Great, 207

 Algeria, 279

 Allah, 31, 76

 Almonds, 171, 253

 Altar, 232, 233, 239

 Ammân, 94, 101, 105, 106, 107, 113, 116, 118, 119, 124, 125, 128, 129,
     131, 132, 138, 139, 140, 141, 148, 301

 Ammon, 126

 _Ammoperdix heyi_, 33

 Amphitheatre, 308, 315, 316

 Amulets, Jewish, 13

 _Anastatica_, 36

 Anatolia, 104

 'Anazeh, 96, 100

 Anemones, 203, 228, 245, 253

 Angel, 318

 Animals, wild, 32, 33, 255

 Anthony, 13

 Antiques, 196, 231, 239, 240, 324

 Antoninus Martyr, 271, 276

 _Apocynacea_, 35

 Apostles' Fountain, 8

 Apples, 204

 "Apple of Sodom," 36

 Apricot-tree, 107, 108, 204

 Aqueduct, 8, 235, 239, 286, 297, 329

 Arabia, 43, 54

 — Central, 7, 40

 — Roman, 69

 Arab steed, 5, 6

 Arabs, 17, 48, 66

 — characteristics, 112, 181, 182, 213, 251, 325, 333

 Arabs, customs, 122, 296, 299

 — effect of climate upon, 12

 — good cooking among, 114, 237

 — superstitions of, 66

 — their dress, 24

 — their indifference to surroundings, 47

 — their lack of initiation, 12

 — traditions and sayings of, 71, 75, 76, 82, 127, 284, 326, 332

 Arak, 311

 Arbutus, 253

 Archæologist, 54, 55, 62, 80, 86, 101, 230, 232

 Archelais, 338, 344

 Archelaus, 338

 Architecture, domestic, 16

 — ecclesiastical, 68, 72

 — Byzantine, 83

 — Greek, 205, 282

 — Sassanian, 84

 Arculf, 258

 Ard' Abdallah, 46

 Arimathea, 104

 Ark of the Covenant, 188

 Arnon, 108, 126

 Arrow-head, 91

 Artemesium, 99

 _Artemisia_, 128

 Artist, the, 179

 Arums, 91, 98, 253

 Arvanitaki, M., 60

 Ascalon, 199

 Ashkenazim, 305

 Asia Minor, 63, 84, 103

 Asparagus, 278

 Asphodel, 254

 _Asplenium-trichomanes_, 253

 Asses, 24

 Assumptionist Order, 62

 Assyrians, 206

 Astarte, 233, 314

 Augusta, 207

 Augustus, 207, 343

 Azalea, 253, 306

 Azedarach (Pride of India), 311


 Baal, 46, 68, 207, 216, 233

 Ba'albek, 108, 127

 Baana, 233

 Bab-el Allah, 76

 Babylon, 234

 Bacilli (of tetanus), 9

 — (cholera), 13

 Backsheesh, 2, 22, 23, 31, 169, 193, 196, 201, 213

 Baedeker, 55, 80, 140

 "Baedeker," 179

 Balak, 46

 Balaam, 46

 Balm, 127

 Balsams, 13, 329

 _Balsamum Gileadense_, 127

 Bananas, 11, 19, 306

 Baptism, 12

 Barak, 266

 Bar Cochba, 304

 Barley, 278

 Barnabé d'Alsace, P., 273

 Basalt, 42, 71, 311

 Bashan, 128

 Basilica, 106, 208

 Bas-reliefs, 84

 Baths, 129, 209, 297, 305, 316

 Battlefields, 227, 266, 279

 Bawâbet Allâh, 76

 Bean, 294

 Bears, 185

 Bedu cemetery, 119

 — characteristics of, 23, 24, 55, 56, 67, 80, 164, 177, 291, 294, 296

 — _versus_ Circassians, 106, 129

 — customs, 135, 166

 — funeral, 121, 122

 — and Hosea, 152, 153

 — pipe, 5

 Bedu songs, poems, and folklore, 96, 97, 118, 292

 — stories of, 291, 319

 — superstitions among, 66

 — traditions, 101

 — women's dress, 120
   (_See also_ Beni Sakr, Shech Muhammed, Beni Hasan)

 Beersheba, 202

 Beitin, 183, 185, 187

 _Belad-er-Ruah_, 228

 Belka, 104-108, 111, 126, 127, 128, 155, 163, 170, 176, 334

 Benedictine convent, 8, 255, 276

 Beni Hasan, 135, 312

 Beni Jafn, 85

 Beni Sakr, 71, 83

 Benjamin, 179, 183

 — of Tudela, 199

 Besan, 284, 306, 310, 314, 315, 316, 317, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329

 Bethabara, 312

 Bethany, 5, 8

 Bethel, 185, 194, 220

 Bethlehem, 45, 160, 194

 Bethsaida, 287, 301

 Bethshan, 227

 Beth-shean, 314, 315

 Biever, Father, 55, 287, 288, 292

 Bint Shech Luth, 10

 Birds, 11, 17, 18, 33, 34, 43, 191, 227, 246, 254, 296, 331, 332, 341

 Bir es Zet, 185, 192

 Bishlik, 337

 Bishopric, 54, 55, 158, 210, 304

 Blackberries, 125

 Blackbirds, 17, 34

 Bliss, Dr, 53, 55, 57, 87

 Blue (colour used as protection against Evil One), 4, 66

 Boar, 32, 255

 Boaz, 239

 Bones of babies, 232, 239

 Boniface of Ragusa, 226

 Bosphorus, 63

 Bougainvilea, 252, 285

 Bowen, 195 (Bishop of Sierra Leone)

 Box Colony, 197

 Box-tree, 23

 Bridge, 22, 23, 28, 31, 141, 164, 168, 170, 307

 Brook Cherith, 15, 34, 175

 Brothers of St John the Divine, 263, 269

 Browning, 51, 78

 Brünnow, Professor, 54, 85

 Bulbul, 296

 Bulrushes, 331

 Burckhardt, 108, 109, 110, 111, 155

 Burial monument, 46

 Burton, Sir Richard, 87

 Byzantine architecture, 83

 — churches, 70, 110

 — priest, 63


 _Caccabis saxatilis_, 33

 Cactus, 226

 Cæsar, 207

 Cæsarea, 199

 Caifa, 247

 Cairns, 90

 Calcium, 10

 Calf, 185

 Callirhoe, 45, 306

 _Calotropis procera_, 36

 Camels, 12, 24, 38, 64, 66, 146, 263

 — in their natural surroundings, 65

 — droppings, 41, 75

 Camel's hair, 4, 24, 293

 Campanulas, 278

 Campus Legionis, 235

 Cana, 270, 271, 272 (_see_ Kefr Kennâ)

 Canaan, 232

 Canaanites, buildings of, 233

 Candlestick, seven-branched, 187

 Capernaum, 297, 298, 301

 Capers, 278

 Capitals, 56, 87, 119, 120, 142, 189, 211, 214, 298, 305, 316

 _Capoéta_, 290

 Caravans, 23, 74, 75, 76, 149

 Carmel, Mount, 190, 202, 228, 237, 244, 246, 247, 248, 249, 251, 252,
     255, 266

 Carmelites, 249, 257

 Carnelian, 212

 Carobs, 204, 253

 Carpets, 156

 Carts, 104, 105

 Casale St Giles, 186

 Castal, 70, 71, 94

 Castle, Arab, 278

 — Arabian, 233

 — Belvoir, 310

 — at Castal, 95

 — of Crusaders, 12, 185, 264

 — of Es-Salt, 158

 — mediæval, 9

 — of Mshatta, 79

 — of Lazarus, 8

 — Saracenic, 70

 Cat, 25, 32, 251

 Cathedral, 57, 207, 210

 Caucasus, 103, 104

 Cave, 16, 101, 203, 285

 Cemetery, 119, 224, 272, 274

 Cenotaph, 101

 Censer, 240

 Centaureas, 254, 332

 Central Arabia, 7, 40

 Central Asia, 76

 Central Palestine, 219

 Chameleons, 278

 Chapel (Rijal el-'Amud), 190

 — of St Simon Stock, 25

 Charcoal-burners, 150, 153

 Chariot, 205, 314

 Chariton, St, 15

 Chats, 227, 331 (_saxicola libanotica_)

 Cheetahs, 32

 Cherith, 15, 34, 175

 _Cheilanthes-fragrans_, 253

 Chiff-chaffs, 227

 Chlorides, 330

 Chloride of calcium, 10

 — of magnesium, 10

 Cholera, 2, 13, 75, 76, 157, 160, 169, 212, 284

 Chorazin, 301

 Chosroes II., 53, 83, 84, 85, 125

 Christian Brothers, 262

 _Chromis paterfamilias_, 290

 _Chromis simonis_, 290

 Chrysanthemum, 253, 254, 332

 Chub, 108

 Church, Christian, 71, 158, 298

 — Greek, 57, 58, 148, 195, 210

 — Latin, 148, 149, 270, 271

 Churches, 55, 60, 195, 202, 275

 — Byzantine, 70, 110

 Church of the Annunciation, 264, 265, 268

 — of Mount Carmel, 257

 — of Crusaders, 12, 264

 — of St Elias, 275

 — mediæval fortress, 189

 — of Knights of St John, 181

 — of St Louis, 255

 — of St Margaret, 255

 — of the Sovereign Mother of God, 57

 — of the Holy Sepulchre, 211

 _Cinnyris oseæ_, 34

 Circassians, 24, 76, 90, 97, 102, 103, 105, 110, 111, 118, 125, 127,
     129, 134, 137, 138, 147, 158, 277

 Circle, stone, 45, 46

 Circus, 129, 143, 216

 Cistern, 14, 68, 81, 219, 285

 Cities, 67, 235, 236, 238, 282

 Civilisation, 45, 80, 110, 176

 Clay, 10

 _Clarias macracanthus_, 290

 _Clematis cirrhosa_, 253

 Clermont-Ganneau, Mons, 59, 61

 Cléopas, Père, 58, 60, 61, 62

 Cleopatra, 13

 Climate, 12

 Cock, 187

 Codex, Samaritan, 198

 Coffee, 111, 133, 136

 Coins, 196, 212, 315

 College, 196

 Colocynth, 228

 Colonies, 47, 83, 95, 104

 Colonists (German), 12, 105, 247, 252, 259

 Columns, 45, 109, 110, 119, 129, 130, 141, 142, 143, 185, 189, 205,
     207, 209, 216, 298, 305, 316, 344

 Commerce, 13, 159

 Conder, 236

 Conduits, 14, 110

 Confessors, 315

 Constantinople, 63

 Constantine, 264

 Consuls, 248, 257, 313

 Convent, Benedictine, 8

 — at Mount Carmel, 252, 255

 — at Es-Salt, 153

 — at Nablûs, 193, 201

 — at Nazareth, 260

 — of St Pierre, 292

 — at Tiberias, 297

 _Coracinus_, 290

 Corinthian architecture, 56, 95, 109, 142, 143, 189, 298, 311

 Corn, 329

 Corn-crakes, 227

 _Corvus affinis_, 33

 Cotton, 195

 Cranes' bills, 227

 Crocuses, 91, 227, 253

 Cromlech, 148

 Crosses, 71, 211

 Crusades, 158, 315

 Crusaders, 12, 15, 104, 175, 181, 186, 207, 211, 252, 264, 303, 304

 Crystal, 212

 Cuckoo, 34

 Cufic inscriptions, 70, 71

 — coins, 196

 Cultivation, 43, 45, 55, 252, 279

 Curtiss, the late Professor, 223

 Cyclamen, 253


 Daisies, yellow, 227, 278

 _Damascéna_, _capoéta_, 290

 Damascus, 72, 74, 76, 84, 87, 101, 125, 177, 199, 314

 Dames de Nazareth, 262

 Dancing, 166, 294

 Dates, 29, 39, 329

 David, 222

 Dead Sea, 9, 10, 17, 32, 163, 173, 216, 328

 Dead Sea fruit (_calotropis procera_), 36

 Dead Sea valley, 43

 Deborah, 181, 232

 Decapolis, 127, 128, 129, 301, 315

 Decius, 315

 "_Decline and Fall_," 83

 Deerhound, 291

 Derwish, 75, 76, 162, 317

 Dhaher, 247

 Dieb, 294, 301

 Diocletian, 315, 329

 Diseases, 221, 306

 Divorce (documents of), 1

 Doctor, the, 2

 Documents (divorce), 13

 Dog, 25, 94, 205

 Dog-bane (_apocynacea_), 35

 Dolmen, 45, 46, 273

 Dolomite, 42

 Dominican, 53, 55, 61

 Donkey, 5, 8, 30, 45, 49, 107, 159

 Dor, 227

 Doric origin, 68

 Dôtân, 218

 Dothan, 218

 Doura, 278

 Dove, Indian turtle-(_turtur risorius_), 33

 Drake, Tyrwhitt, 87

 Droppings, 41, 75, 128

 Druses, 255, 292, 294, 295, 296

 Durand, Père Germer, 62

 Dyeing-sheds, 297


 Eagles, 331

 Ebal, Mount, 191, 192, 194, 201

 Ebenezer, 220

 Edinburgh Medical Mission, 263

 Egypt, Lower, 58

 El Aujeh, 344

 El Bireh, 179, 180, 183

 Elders, 253

 _El-Ghor_, 328, 329, 331

 El Hammâm, 316

 Eli, 188

 Elijah, 17, 171, 256, 266

 — Fountain of, 14, 15

 — hiding-place of, 15, 16

 Elisha, 185, 204, 208, 275

 El Lubban, 192

 Emir Nūh Bey, 103, 139

 Emperor, German, 212, 297

 Emperor Heraclius, 85

 Endor, 228, 269

 En-gannim, 224

 Engedi, 36

 Ephesus, 63

 Ephraim, 183, 187, 208

 Epiphany, 13, 292

 _Epistle of an Arab Physician_, 78

 Er-Rashid, 88

 Eryngo, 278

 Escort, 5, 6, 95, 118, 138, 340

 Esdraelon, 227, 228, 266

 Es-Salt, 50, 145, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159

 Essenes, 16

 Es Sumrah, 344

 Et Tâbigha, 284, 297

 Et-tayyibeh, 187

 Eusebius, 95, 235

 Evil One, 4, 66

 Excavation, 236, 238, 297, 316

 — Austrian, 231

 — German, 230, 231

 Excavations, 215, 227

 Ezekiel, 47

 Ezra, 198

 Ez-Zerka 126


 Falcon, Lanner-, 99

 _Farnesiana_, 22

 Fauna, 11

 _Felis caligata_, 32

 _Felis-mas_, 253

 Fellahin, 23, 24, 49, 80, 106, 119, 135, 140, 292, 293

 Fennel, 278

 Feral cat, 25

 Fergusson, 83

 Ferhad, 84

 Ferns, 253

 _Ficus sycomorus_, 14 (mulberry fig)

 Figs, 17, 29, 39, 287

 Fig-tree, 160, 187

 Firearms, 213

 Fish, 108, 286, 289, 290

 Flax, 329

 Flint arrow-head, 91

 Flintlock, 213

 Flora, 11, 12, 35, 43, 91, 98, 99, 203, 227, 228, 245, 252, 253, 273,
     278, 288

 Folklore, 186, 292

 Fords, 21

 Forests, 127, 149

 Fortress, 158, 209, 211, 217, 227, 234, 238, 239, 316, 327

 Forts, Roman, 68, 83, 94

 Forum, 110, 129, 141, 142, 209, 216, 282

 Fountain, Apostles', 8

 — Elijah's, 14, 15

 Foxes, 32 (_canis niloticus_, _canis variegatus_)

 Franciscans, 61, 195, 226, 260, 262, 264, 265, 268, 270, 272, 275,
     276, 289, 291, 297

 Francolin, 33

 Frenjy, the, 196, 201, 259, 280

 Fruit, 125, 156, 170, 204, 228

 Fruit, Dead Sea (_calotropis procera_), 36

 Fulke, King, 310

 Funeral, 121


 Gabinius, 207

 Gadara, 307, 308

 Galingale, 253

 Galilee, 126, 167, 220, 227, 228, 269, 281, 286

 Gardens, 20, 204, 205, 217, 224, 225, 226, 252, 264, 288

 Gazelle, 12, 32, 90, 93, 98, 128, 292

 Genista, 253

 Gennesaret, plain of, 285

 Geraniums, 91, 254

 Gerasimos, Patriarch, 60

 Gerizim, Mount, 191, 192, 194, 202

 — Temple of, 202

 Germans, 215, 248

 Gethsemane, Garden of, 8, 284

 Ghassanides, 85, 129

 Gibbon, 83

 Gideon, 125, 266

 Gilboa, 228, 237

 Gilead, 127, 128, 145, 265, 315, 328

 Giovanni of Frascati, Brother, 256

 Gladioli, 253

 Goats, 25, 56, 123

 Goat's hair, 4, 293

 Good Samaritan, Khan of, 6, 9, 176, 345

 Gorge of brook Cherith, 15, 16, 17, 18, 146, 147, 159

 Gothic cathedral, 207

 Government, the, 195

 Grakle, 17, 34

 Grapes, 156, 158

 Gravel limestone, 42

 Graves, 119, 152, 221 (_see also_ Wely)

 Great Plain, 272

 Greeks, 53, 199, 249, 260, 262

 Greenstone, 42

 Griffon-vulture, 99, 331

 Grottoes, 101, 344

 Grouse, sand, 33

 Grove, Sir George, 198

 Guelder-roses, 253

 Guide, 51, 214, 323, 324, 326, 327

 Guy de Lusignan, King, 279


 Hadramat, 90

 Haifa, 72, 244, 246, 247, 248, 252, 255, 256, 258, 259

 Haj, 75, 99, 100, 175, 340, 342

 _Haji_, 172

 _Haj_ road, 74

 Hannah, 188

 _Haram_, 28

 Haroun-er-Raschid, 233

 Harvest, 48

 Haurân, 7, 85, 100, 111, 135

 Hawkweeds, 332

 Hawthorns, 253

 Hayil, 89

 Hebrides, Outer, 186, 295

 Hebron, 177, 194, 222, 270, 303

 Heesh, 157

 Hêhl, 133, 136

 Helena, 271, 275

 Henna, 4

 Heraclius, Emperor, 85

 Herbs, balsamic, 278

 Hermitages, 15, 18, 285

 Hermon, 188, 191, 280, 281, 284, 306, 334

 Herod, 13, 126, 207, 216, 281, 282, 285, 338, 343

 — palace of, 14

 Heshbon, 45, 47

 Hierapolis, 84

 High places, 68

 Highwaymen, 49

 Hill of the Cock (_Jebel ed deek_), 187

 Hill—Tel'at ed-Dam, 9

 Hills, 31, 43, 128, 147, 163, 191, 228, 265, 269, 310, 328

 Hippodrome, 207, 209, 216, 316

 "_Historical Geography_," 202, 204

 Holofernes, 315

 Hornstone, 253

 Horses, 4, 6, 24

 Hosea, 152, 223

 Hospice, Franciscan, 283

 — German Catholic Palæstina Verein, 287, 289, 291

 — at Haifa, 248, 249

 — of the Knights of St John, 181

 — Nazareth, 261, 263

 Hospital, Austrian, 269

 — at Carmel, 256

 — at Haifa, 248

 — Nazareth, 263

 — of the Templars, 195

 — at Tiberias, 283, 303, 323

 Hospitality, 51, 119, 131, 153, 156, 171, 172, 176, 255, 260, 287

 Hospitallers, 279

 Hotels, 20, 260, 283

 Hûsh or Hûshi, 104

 Hyacinths, 253

 Hyæna, 12, 32, 151, 255

 Hyrcanus, 54, 202, 207

 Hypnotic suggestion, 221


 Ibex, 32

 Ibn Rashid, 89

 Idol, 239

 Ignatius, 276

 Incense, Israelitish altar of, 233

 Indian turtle-dove, 33 (_turtur risorius_)

 Inn of the Apostles' Fountain, 8

 — of the Good Samaritan, 9, 176

 Inscription, 57, 70, 71, 275

 Institute of British Architects, 84

 Institutions, 186, 263

 Invocation, 231

 Ionic capitals, 142

 Irises, 253

 Isaac, 74, 202

 Isaiah, 208

 Ishmaelites, 127

 Israel, 46, 189

 Israelites, 54, 223, 224, 235

 Issachar, 224

 "Italian, the," 229, 237, 238

 _Itineraries_, 95


 Jabbok, 108, 116, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 146, 312, 334

 Jachin, 239

 Jackals, 11, 32, 151, 255

 Jacob, 124, 125, 185, 192

 Jael, 245

 Jaffa, 45, 202, 270

 Jahwe, 233

 Jalûd, 310, 325

 Jar, 85, 240, 271

 Jaulân, 85, 104

 Jeba, 217

 Jebel es-Shech, 306, 334

 Jebel Osha, 152, 173, 334

 Jehonadab, 204

 Jehu, 204, 216

 Jenin, 203, 217, 224, 226, 227

 Jerash, 105, 106, 118, 139, 145, 148, 210, 216, 301

 Jerboa, 34, 331

 Jeremiah, 47, 189

 Jericho of crusading times, 14

 Jericho, 8, 11, 13, 19, 20, 50, 127, 164, 175, 312, 344

 — plain of, 12, 21

 — road to, 5, 6

 — Roman, 13, 14

 Jericho-roses, 35 (_anastatica_)

 Jeroboam, 185, 188

 Jerome, St, 189, 208, 235, 276, 304

 Jerusalem, 5, 11, 45, 102, 122, 175, 183, 194, 197, 303, 304

 Jessamine, 252

 Jezebel, 215, 216

 Jezreel, 227, 310

 Jifna, 185, 186, 192

 Jisr el Mujamia, 307

 Job or Joab, 123

 Jochanan, Bishop, 317

 John the Baptist, 171, 202, 208, 216

 Jonah, 270

 Jonquils, 245, 253

 Jordan, 11, 13, 31, 32, 45, 56, 124, 126, 127, 145, 165, 167, 171,
     220, 307, 308, 325, 329

 — East, 90, 103, 120, 128, 257, 294, 312

 — valley, 9, 21, 32, 35, 36, 265

 Joseph, St, 264

 Joseph, 192, 219

 Josephus, 36, 207, 274, 285, 290, 303, 315

 Joshua, 54, 188, 199, 314

 Josiah, 235

 Jotham, 223

 Judah, 235

 Judæa, 11, 12, 163, 328

 Jujube-tree 21, 23, 37, 164 (_zizyphus lotus_)

 — _zizyphus spina Christi_, 21

 Julia Livia, 343

 Juniper, 253

 Justinian, 86, 195, 202


 Kafr Sabt, 279

 Kaimmakâm, 155

 Kamnimotsk or Kakupschi, 103

 Karâwa, 340

 Karn Hattîn, 279

 Karn Sartabeh, 340

 Keats, 64

 Keble, 286

 Kedron, valley of, 8, 123

 _Keffeeye_, 4

 Kefr Kennâ, spring of, 270

 Kerak, 53, 56, 169

 Kerosene, 196, 197

 Khalil, 30

 Khan, 160, 180, 190, 224, 225, 278, 287, 300, 311

 Khan of the Good Samaritan, 6, 9

 Khans, Saracenic, 68

 Kings, Three, 292, 294

 Kingfisher, 332

 Kinnerôt, 280

 Kinnor (a lute), 280

 Kirbet el-Herri, 68

 Kishon, 235, 244, 245, 259

 Klein, 71

 Knights of St John, 181, 211

 Kôkab el-Hawa, 310

 Koziba, 16

 Kubâtîyeh, 220, 222

 Kumbaz, 166, 172


 Lady, the, 2

 Lagos, Ptolemy, 206

 Lake of Galilee, 167, 284, 286, 289

 Lagrange, Père, 62

 "_Land and the Book_," 82

 Language, 25, 51

 Lanner-falcon, 99

 Lapis-lazuli, 212

 Larks, 99, 227, 331

 Latin Patriarch, 51

 Latins, 12, 52, 53, 199, 249, 260

 Law, 196, 198

 Lazarus, Castle of, 8

 Lebanon, 255

 Leeches, 8

 Lehaf, 137, 312

 Lejjun or Legio, 235, 236, 237, 242

 Lemons, 3, 17, 252

 Lepers, 195, 206, 226

 Levi, 200

 Libations, 240

 Lightfoot, 274

 Limestone, 10, 42, 43, 203, 253, 298

 Linen, 329

 Lintel, 56, 189

 Lions, 32

 Lizard, 43, 93, 98, 278, 331

 Looms, 196

 Lot, Shech, 10

 Louis, St, 255, 271

 Lower Egypt, 58

 Lubban, 190, 192

 Lupin, 254

 Lusignan, King Guy de, 279

 Lychnis, 254


 Maccabees, 266

 Machærus, 216

 Madaba, 32, 38, 46, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 60, 62, 95, 102,
     138, 139, 148, 287, 291

 Magdala, 285, 286, 301

 Magnesium, 9

 Maiden-hair, 253, 260

 Maimonides, 304

 Maize, 278

 "Majnoon," 162

 Makhrûd, 334

 _Maktoub_, 37

 Mâlih, 334

 Manasseh, 198, 232, 235

 Mandrakes, 203, 253

 Manuscripts, 200

 Map, mosaic, of Madaba, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63

 Marble, 56, 95, 264, 298

 Mares, 25, 27, 291

 Margaret of Provence, 271

 Margaret, St, 255

 Mariamne, 216

 Marl, 21

 Marriage, 13, 52

 Martyrs, 189, 190

 Masada, 36

 Mastaba, 146

 Maundeville, Sir John, 178, 247, 258, 277

 Maundrell, Henry, 194

 Mausoleum, 158

 Mezeba, 239

 Meadow of Sinking In (_Merj-el-Gharak_), 218

 Measurement (by time), 31

 Mecca, 72, 74, 75, 172

 Medal, 196

 Mediterranean, 32, 202, 204, 280

 Megiddo, 227, 232, 235, 236, 259

 Meidân, 76

 Mejdel, 286

 _Melissa officinalis_, 128

 _Mémoire_, by Mons. Clermont-Ganneau, 59

 Menhirs, 239

 _Merj-el-Gharak_, 218

 Mesha, 54

 Meshalcha, Bedu, 312, 325

 Michaud, 265, 271

 Midianites, 125, 219

 Milestones, 45

 Mill, 71, 124, 148, 235, 297

 Minaret, 226, 246, 281

 Minyeh, Khan, 287, 300

 Mishna, 304

 Missionaries, 186, 249, 289

 Missions, Scottish and American, 303

 — medical, 249, 263, 287

 — _Jerusalem and the East_, 249

 Moab, 11, 22, 43, 47, 116, 117, 126, 128, 173, 202, 208

 Moabite sparrow, 34

 Moabite stone, 68, 71

 Moabites, 54

 Monastery, 15, 16, 85, 256

 Monks, Greek, 16, 59

 Monogamy, 56

 Monograph, by Père Séjourné, 53

 — by Schumacher, 55, 140

 — by Père Lagrange and Père Cléopas

 Mongols, 158

 Monolith, 189, 214

 Monument, burial, 46, 72, 130

 "_Le Mont Thabor: Notices Historiques et Descriptives_," 273

 Morality, 56

 Moravians, German, 195

 Mosaics, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 64, 271, 275

 Moses, 42, 44, 46, 199, 222

 Mosque, 70, 110, 172, 189, 195, 207, 210, 255

 Mshatta, or Mashita, or Meshita, 71, 79, 80, 84, 93, 98, 128

 Mount Ebal, 191, 192, 194, 201

 Mount Gerizim, 191, 192, 194, 202

 — Gilboa, 228, 237

 — of Moab, 202

 — Nebo, 42, 44, 45

 — of Olives, 8, 164

 — of Precipitation, 269

 — Scopas, 179

 Mountain of the Shech, 306

 Mountains of Es-Salt, 157

 — Quarantana, 15

 Mourner, 121

 Muchtar, 106, 111

 Mudir, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 139, 310, 311, 313, 323, 324

 Mulberry fig, 14

 Mulberry-trees, 222

 Mujedda, 236

 _Mukaris_, 3

 Muquṭṭa, 235

 _Muscari_, 35

 Museum, 257

 Music, 96, 295

 Mutesarrif, 135

 Mykenæan pottery, 234

 Myrrh, 127

 Myrtle, 253


 Naaman, 204

 Nabateans, 54

 Nablûs, 179, 183, 190, 191, 193, 194, 195, 197, 199, 202, 217,
     219, 312

 Nahallal, 272

 Nain, 228, 269

 Napoleon, 256

 Narghile, 30

 Nathaniel, 272

 Nawa, 106

 Naumachia, 143

 Nazareth, 228, 258, 260, 261, 262, 266

 _Nebk_, 21

 Nebo, Mount, 42, 44, 45

 Negro, 20, 171, 338, 339

 Nets, 289

 Nightingale, 34

 Nile, 84, 125, 246

 Nimr, 96, 118

 _Notitia_, Roman, 69, 95

 Notre Dame d'Amerique, 260

 Nysa, 315


 Oaks, 11, 105, 120, 149, 150, 157, 204, 222, 223, 253, 259

 Obadiah, 208

 Odeum, 109

 Officials, 24, 248

 Oleander, 23, 35, 123, 126, 286, 306, 332

 Oliphant, Hans, 248

 Oliphant, Laurence, 244

 Olives, 148, 187, 204

 Olives, Mount of, 8

 Omar, 312

 Omri, 54, 206

 Orabs, 17

 Orange, 19, 20, 127, 252

 Orchis, 253

 Origen, 276

 Ornithogalums, 332

 Orphanage of Dames de Nazareth, 262

 — English, 263

 — Salesian Fathers, 260

 _Oshr_, 36

 Oxen, 25, 104


 Palace, 86, 87, 88, 142, 215

 Palace of Herod, 14, 207, 282

 Palestine, 58, 63, 219

 — Eastern, 126, 129

 — Exploration Fund, 62, 71, 87

 Palmer, Paul, 62

 Palms, 11, 13, 127, 181, 224, 226, 246, 252, 281, 284, 306

 Panther, 255

 Pariah dog, 25

 Partridge, 33

 — (Hey's) _ammoperdix heyi_, 33

 — (Greek) _caccabis saxatilis_, 33

 Pasha, the, 95

 — of Acre, 217, 256

 — of Damascus, 156

 Passover, The, 198, 200

 Patriarch, Gerasimos, 60

 — Greek, 57, 59, 60, 61, 62

 — Latin, 51, 155

 Patriarchate in Jerusalem, 193, 195

 Paul, St, 268

 Paula, 271, 276

 Peacock, Thomas Love, 112

 Pears, 204

 Pella, 306, 312, 326

 Pentateuch, 199

 Peræa, 7, 125, 126

 Periwinkle, 35, 253

 Père Cléopas, 58, 60, 61, 62

 Père Germer Durand, 62

 Père Séjourné, 53, 55, 57

 Père Vincent, 61

 Persian art, 81

 Persian Gulf, 76

 — king, 83

 Personage, the Royal, 2, 40

 Peter, St, 276

 Phasælis, 342, 343

 Philadelphia, 116

 Phinehas, 198

 Phœnicians, 246

 Piasters, 31, 50, 52, 157, 337

 Piedmontese, 51

 Pigeons, 33

 — rock, 18

 Pilasters, 87, 95

 Pilgrims, 13, 14, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 256, 263, 298

 Pillar, 120, 239

 Pines, 11, 105, 150

 Pipes, native, 5, 40

 Pistachios, 171

 Plague, 75

 Plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel, 227, 228

 — of Sharon, 228

 — of Gennesaret, 285

 — of El-Makhna, 191

 Plateau, 64, 126

 — of Ard 'Abdallah, 46

 — of Ard el Hammâ, 280

 Plough, 45, 119, 191, 221, 227

 Plovers, 227

 Poem, 66

 Poet, 96, 118

 Polygamy, 56

 Pomegranate, 253

 Pompey, 207, 315

 Pool, 14, 55, 205

 Poor Clares, 260

 Poplars, 223, 332

 Population, 23, 107, 155, 195, 249

 Potteries, 297

 Pottery, 234

 Presbytery, 51, 53, 148, 272

 Pride of India, 311

 Priest, high, 200

 — Byzantine, 63

 — Greek, 58, 180

 — parish, 51, 55, 56, 155, 157

 Priests, 51, 52

 "_Primitive Semitic Religion To-Day_," 223

 Professor, the, 2

 Prophet, the, 74, 125, 189

 Prophets, Jewish, 190, 256

 Propylæa, 141, 142

 Proscenium, 142

 Psalms, 116, 117

 _Pseudo-platanus_, 14

 Ptolomais, 247

 Ptolemy Lagos, 207

 Ptolemy Philadelphus, 116

 Pudding-stone, 42


 Quakers, 186

 Quarantana mountain, 15

 Quarantine, 2, 31, 160, 165, 169

 _Quercus ægilops_, 149


 Rab Jochanan Ben Sakai, 304

 Rabbath Ammân, 116

 Rabbi Akiba, 304

 — Meîr, 304

 Rags, 220, 228

 Rahab, 15

 Rahwân, 5, 27

 Railway, 72, 73, 88, 99, 108, 211, 229, 236, 246, 249, 307, 308

 Raisins, 29, 156, 158

 Rakkath, 282

 Ramah, 179

 Ramleh, 104, 189

 Ranunculus, 254

 Rat, 125

 Ravens, 17, 331

 Raven, wedge-tailed (_corvus affinis_), 33

 Rebecca, 185

 Rechab, 205

 _Recueil d'Archéologie Orientale_, 59

 Red Sea, 76

 Reservoirs, 55, 69, 185, 316

 "Rischân" or "Rischi," 292

 Road, 44, 67, 74, 83, 95, 118, 141, 183, 186

 Robinson, 235

 Rocks, 42, 43, 253

 Rock garden, 252

 — rose, 253

 — pigeons, 18

 Rolls of the Law, 196

 Roman Catholics, 12, 196

 — colonies, 83, 99

 — Arabia, 69

 — forts, 68, 83, 94

 — forum, 110

 — marches, 85

 — _Notitia_, 69

 — province, 86

 — remains, 70, 119, 235, 297, 308, 316

 — road, 44, 67, 83, 95, 118, 125, 141, 144

 — soldiers, 47

 — tiles, 87

 — toparchies, 186

 Rooks, 191, 227

 Roots, 149

 Rosaries, 157

 Rose bushes, 225, 288

 Roses, Jericho-(_anastatica_), 36

 Rotunda, 141, 142

 Ruins, 53, 54, 67, 68, 71, 106, 108, 109, 140, 141, 148, 181, 186,
     207, 247, 273, 275, 278, 297, 298, 338, 340


 Sa'b-el-Meshak, 6

 Sacrifice, 91, 250, 319

 Sadowi, 27, 28, 161, 162, 182, 258, 325, 335, 342, 343

 Sæwulf, 302

 _Safsaf_, 22

 Saint, 221, 223, 318

 Saint Chariton, 15

 — Moslem, 120, 189

 — Old Testament, 220

 Saladdin, 158

 Salesians, 260, 262

 Salisbury, Bishop of (1192), 265

 Sallah ed-din, 279, 287, 310, 315

 Salome, 343

 Salt, 10, 14, 21

 _Saltana_, 156

 Samaria, 191, 203, 204, 206, 219, 228, 328

 Samaritan, Good, Khan of, 6, 9, 176, 345

 Samuel, 188

 Samovar, 136, 139

 Samaritans, 198, 199, 201, 226

 Sanatorium, 248

 Sand-grouse, 33

 Sand-stone, 42, 344

 Sanhedrin, 304

 Sandwort, 43

 Sanīye, 135

 Sânûr, 217

 Sâra, 158

 Saracens, 85

 Saracenic khans, 68

 Sarcophagi, 71, 101, 110, 119, 216, 270, 308

 Sargon, 315

 — bas-reliefs, 84

 Sassanian dynasty, 84

 Saul, 266, 314

 _Saxicola libanotica_, 331

 Scarabs, 234

 Schools, 195, 196, 226, 262, 263, 305

 Schumacher, 55, 56, 72, 90, 96, 100, 104, 135, 140, 249, 257, 312

 Scopas, Mount, 179

 Scrolls of the Law, 198

 Sculpture, 70, 71, 81, 142, 189, 211, 214, 316

 Scythopolis, 315

 Sea-birds, 246

 Sea, Dead, 9, 10, 17, 32

 Seal, 196, 234, 240

 Sebaste, 203, 205, 207, 210, 211, 213, 215

 Sect, esoteric, 16

 Sedge-grass, 331

 Seetzen, 111

 Séjourné, Père, 53, 55, 57

 Selim Effendi Khuri, 252

 Sellin, Doctor, 233

 Semûniyeh, 259

 Sepulchre, Holy, 195

 _Serai_, 224, 313, 318, 327, 337, 338

 Sesame, 278

 Settlements, Greek, 12

 — Russian, 12

 — Samaritan, 196, 197

 _Seyal_, 22

 Sharon, 104, 228, 255

 Shech, 51, 56, 71, 74, 120, 209, 211, 291, 300, 319, 330

 Shech Abdallah, 46

 Shech Goblan, 118

 Shech Lot, 10

 Shech Shadli, 313

 Shech Muhammed, 100

 Shechem, 194, 219

 Shelley, 93

 Shiloh, 188, 189, 194

 Shiraz, 84

 Shireen, 84

 Shop, curiosity, 9

 Shrine, 223

 Shunem, 269

 _Sidr_, 21

 _Silenæ_, 35

 Simon Stock, St, 257

 Singing, 96, 97, 99, 166

 Sisera, 245

 Sisters of Charity, 263

 — of St Joseph, 263

 — of the Rosary, 155

 Skylarks, 227

 Smith, Prof. G. A., 72, 202, 204, 235

 Smyrna, 63

 Snails, land-, 99

 Soap, 195

 Soapwort, 43

 Sodom, apple of, 36

 Sœurs de Charité, 195

 _Solanum sanctum_, 36

 Soldiers, Circassian, 90, 135

 — Egyptian, 12

 — Jewish, 285

 — Roman, 47

 Solomon, 188, 235, 239

 Sparrows, 11, 34, 227

 Sportsmen, 2

 Spring, 158, 181, 185, 190, 205, 270, 279

 Springs, hot, 45, 297, 308

 Squills, 35, 253

 Stallions, 6, 24

 Star of Bethlehem, 253

 Starlings, 11, 227

 Statues, 142

 Stocks, 254, 332

 Stones, 220, 318

 Stone of Abraham, 177

 Stone circle, 45, 46, 185

 Stone, Moabite, 54, 68, 71

 Storks, 332

 Sugar-cane, 329

 Suggestion, hypnotic, 221

 "Sultana," 156

 Sultan's Spring, 14, 15

 Sumach, 156

 Sun-bird, _cinnyris oseæ_, 34, 254

 Superstitions, 66, 77, 298

 Swallows, 17, 93, 125, 316

 Sycaminium, 247

 Sycomore, 14

 Synagogue, 200, 298, 303

 Syrians, 206

 Syria, 14, 30, 80, 105, 125, 246, 250

 Szaltese, 156


 Taanak, 227, 229, 232, 233, 235, 236

 Tabor, 224, 229, 237, 266, 274, 277

 Talmud, 304, 340

 Tamarisk, 23, 34, 253, 332

 Tank, 69, 70

 Tanneries, 297

 Tarafah, 66

 Tarbush, 24, 293, 318

 Taricheæ, 286 (_see_ Magdala)

 Tax, road, 45

 — war, 50

 — Tel'at ed-Dam, 9

 Taxes, general, 106, 135

 — horse, 49

 Tell, 203, 214, 229, 232, 301, 316, 341

 — Hûm, 297

 — el Matâba, 45

 — el-Mutesellim, 235, 236, 237, 238

 Templars, 195, 259, 279

 Temple, 68, 129, 141, 142, 185, 199, 202, 207, 209, 239, 314

 Temptation, 15

 Terebinth, 150, 157, 219, 223

 Teskerys (local passports), 165, 193

 Tetanus, 9

 Tetrapylon, 141, 142

 _Tfaddalu_, 111

 Theatre, 109, 129, 141, 142, 143, 207, 209, 235

 Thermæ, 106, 110

 Thieves, 5

 Thistles, 23

 Thompson, 82

 Thorns, 21, 23, 150

 Thothmes III., 314

 Three Kings, the, 292, 294

 Tiberias, 13, 259, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 323

 Tiglath-pileser, 315

 Tithes, 200

 Tobacco, 5, 30, 40, 41, 55, 157, 294, 338

 Tomb of 'Abdallah, 46

 — of Abdel Azziz en-Nimr Shech Adwân, 118, 119

 — of Abu Obeidah Ibn el Jerrâh, 312

 — of Jonah, 270

 — of Joseph, 192

 Tombs, 110, 119, 158, 187, 192, 239, 285, 304, 317, 318

 _Tombak_, 30

 _Tortilis_, 22

 Tortoises, 278

 Town of Nablûs (_see_ Nablûs)

 — of ancient Jericho, 15

 Towns in ruins, 67, 68, 106, 141, 301

 Traditions, 298

 Tradition, _re_ church at el Bireh, 181

 — _re_ Elijah's Fountain, 14

 — _re_ the horse of Solomon, 299

 — _re_ St John Baptist, 208

 — _re_ ten lepers, 226

 — _re_ the Miracle of turning Water into Wine, 270

 — _re_ Nathaniel, 272

 — _re_ Sermon on the Mount, 279

 — _re_ workshop of St Joseph, 264

 Trajan, 129

 Transfiguration, the, 273, 275

 Tree (sacred), 190, 220, 221, 222, 223, 227

 Trees, 21, 22, 23, 149, 150, 204, 253, 259, 306, 311

 Tristram, 17, 36, 42, 67, 70, 71, 79, 80, 94, 289, 344

 Troughs, stone, 119

 _Turtur risorius_, 33

 Turban, 293

 Turcomans, 24, 146

 Turtle-dove, Indian, 33 (_turtur risorius_)


 Um el-Kuseir, 67, 68

 Um er-Resâs, 68

 Um Weleed, 67, 68

 Umshita, 79

 University, 303


 Valerian, 254

 Valley, Dead Sea, 43

 — Jezreel, 310

 — Jordan, 9, 36

 — Kedron, 8

 — of the Lubban, 190

 — of Sa'b-el-Meshak, 6

 Vegetation, tropical, 11, 306

 Vespasian, 329

 Village of Abu-dis, 5

 — of Ammân (_see_ Ammân)

 — of Bir es Zet, 185

 — of Et-tayyibeh, 187

 — of Gath-Hepher, 270

 — of Jenin, 203, 217, 224, 227

 — of Jerash, 130, 131

 — of Jifna, 185, 186

 — of Kafr Sabt, 279

 — of Kubâtîyeh, 220, 222

 — of Madaba, 53

 — of Mastaba, 146

 — of Er-Rummâna, 146

 — of Sebaste, 213

 — of Seilun, 188

 — of Yâfâ, 260

 Villages of Bedu, 67

 — of Circassians, 106

 Vincent, Père, 61

 Vineyard, 252

 Vogüe, M. de, 211

 Vulture, 99, 331, 341


 Wadi Salihi, 147

 Wady, 122, 334

 — el Abyad, 341

 — Faria, 334, 335, 339

 — Fesail, 341

 — el-Hamman, 119

 — Heshban, 36, 47

 — el-Hor, 149

 — Kelt, 15

 — Mâlih, 334

 — el-Mastaba, 146

 — Osha, 157

 — er-Rumemin, 148

 — er-Rumman, 122

 — Shaib, 159 (_see also_ 160)

 — Umm Rabi, 146

 Wages, 23

 Warren, Sir Charles, 71

 Water, 14, 16, 55, 74, 108, 122, 126, 144, 168, 194

 — of Dead Sea, 9

 — Roman system, 14, 69

 — bottles, 44

 Waterfall, 147, 297, 332

 Water-pipe, 30, 112, 114, 330

 Watka, 118, 119

 Weapons, 25, 55

 Wedge-tailed raven (_corvus affinis_), 33

 Well of Jacob, 192, 202

 Well of Nazareth, 265

 — of Tiberias, 285

 Welys, 120, 121, 152, 160, 202, 221, 317, 318

 Willibald, 271, 276

 Willow, 22, 332 (_safsaf_)

 Wine, 252, 271, 272, 294, 311

 Wolf, 33

 Women, 205

 Wool, 195

 Wordsworth, 20, 116, 323

 Wormwood, 99 (_artemesium_)

 Wren, long-tailed, 254 (_drymæca gracilis_)


 Yafa, 260

 Yakubi, 141

 Yakut, 140

 Yarmuk, 126, 127, 307

 Yemen, 85

 Yujûz, 119


 Zadam, 71

 _Zakkum_, 23

 Zebedee, 260

 Zebîb, 68

 Ziza, 69, 71

 _Zizyphus lotus_, 21, 23, 164

 _Zizyphus spina Christi_, 21


THE RIVERSIDE PRESS LIMITED, EDINBURGH





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software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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