Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "All science is either physics or stamp collecting."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 41

    • Rate it:
    • 1 Favorite on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 42
    Previous Chapter
    When I last made a memorandum, we were at Ephesus. We are in Syria, now,
    encamped in the mountains of Lebanon. The interregnum has been long,
    both as to time and distance. We brought not a relic from Ephesus!
    After gathering up fragments of sculptured marbles and breaking ornaments
    from the interior work of the Mosques; and after bringing them at a cost
    of infinite trouble and fatigue, five miles on muleback to the railway
    depot, a government officer compelled all who had such things to
    disgorge! He had an order from Constantinople to look out for our party,
    and see that we carried nothing off. It was a wise, a just, and a
    well-deserved rebuke, but it created a sensation. I never resist a
    temptation to plunder a stranger's premises without feeling insufferably
    vain about it. This time I felt proud beyond expression. I was serene
    in the midst of the scoldings that were heaped upon the Ottoman
    government for its affront offered to a pleasuring party of entirely
    respectable gentlemen and ladies I said, "We that have free souls, it
    touches us not." The shoe not only pinched our party, but it pinched
    hard; a principal sufferer discovered that the imperial order was
    inclosed in an envelop bearing the seal of the British Embassy at
    Constantinople, and therefore must have been inspired by the
    representative of the Queen. This was bad--very bad. Coming solely
    from the Ottomans, it might have signified only Ottoman hatred of
    Christians, and a vulgar ignorance as to genteel methods of expressing
    it; but coming from the Christianized, educated, politic British
    legation, it simply intimated that we were a sort of gentlemen and
    ladies who would bear watching! So the party regarded it, and were
    incensed accordingly. The truth doubtless was, that the same
    precautions would have been taken against any travelers, because the
    English Company who have acquired the right to excavate Ephesus, and
    have paid a great sum for that right, need to be protected, and deserve
    to be. They can not afford to run the risk of having their hospitality
    abused by travelers, especially since travelers are such notorious
    scorners of honest behavior.

    We sailed from Smyrna, in the wildest spirit of expectancy, for the chief
    feature, the grand goal of the expedition, was near at hand--we were
    approaching the Holy Land! Such a burrowing into the hold for trunks
    that had lain buried for weeks, yes for months; such a hurrying to and
    fro above decks and below; such a riotous system of packing and
    unpacking; such a littering up of the cabins with shirts and skirts, and
    indescribable and unclassable odds and ends; such a making up of bundles,
    and setting apart of umbrellas, green spectacles and thick veils; such a
    critical inspection of saddles and bridles that had never yet touched
    horses; such a cleaning and loading of revolvers and examining of
    bowie-knives; such a half-soling of the seats of pantaloons with
    serviceable buckskin; then such a poring over ancient maps; such a
    reading up of Bibles and Palestine travels; such a marking out of
    routes; such exasperating efforts to divide up the company into little
    bands of congenial spirits who might make the long and arduous Journey
    without quarreling; and morning, noon and night, such mass-meetings in
    the cabins, such speech-making, such sage suggesting, such worrying and
    quarreling, and such a general raising of the very mischief, was never
    seen in the ship before!

    But it is all over now. We are cut up into parties of six or eight, and
    by this time are scattered far and wide. Ours is the only one, however,
    that is venturing on what is called "the long trip"--that is, out into
    Syria, by Baalbec to Damascus, and thence down through the full length of
    Palestine. It would be a tedious, and also a too risky journey, at this
    hot season of the year, for any but strong, healthy men, accustomed
    somewhat to fatigue and rough life in the open air. The other parties
    will take shorter journeys.

    For the last two months we have been in a worry about one portion of this
    Holy Land pilgrimage. I refer to transportation service. We knew very
    well that Palestine was a country which did not do a large passenger
    business, and every man we came across who knew any thing about it gave
    us to understand that not half of our party would be able to get dragomen
    and animals. At Constantinople every body fell to telegraphing the
    American Consuls at Alexandria and Beirout to give notice that we wanted
    dragomen and transportation. We were desperate--would take horses,
    jackasses, cameleopards, kangaroos--any thing. At Smyrna, more
    telegraphing was done, to the same end. Also fearing for the worst, we
    telegraphed for a large number of seats in the diligence for Damascus,
    and horses for the ruins of Baalbec.

    As might have been expected, a notion got abroad in Syria and Egypt that
    the whole population of the Province of America (the Turks consider us a
    trifling little province in some unvisited corner of the world,) were
    coming to the Holy Land--and so, when we got to Beirout yesterday, we
    found the place full of dragomen and their outfits. We had all intended
    to go by diligence to Damascus, and switch off to Baalbec as we went
    along--because we expected to rejoin the ship, go to Mount Carmel, and
    take to the woods from there. However, when our own private party of
    eight found that it was possible, and proper enough, to make the "long
    trip," we adopted that programme. We have never been much trouble to a
    Consul before, but we have been a fearful nuisance to our Consul at
    Beirout. I mention this because I can not help admiring his patience,
    his industry, and his accommodating spirit. I mention it also, because I
    think some of our ship's company did not give him as full credit for his
    excellent services as he deserved.

    Well, out of our eight, three were selected to attend to all business
    connected with the expedition. The rest of us had nothing to do but look
    at the beautiful city of Beirout, with its bright, new houses nestled
    among a wilderness of green shrubbery spread abroad over an upland that
    sloped gently down to the sea; and also at the mountains of Lebanon that
    environ it; and likewise to bathe in the transparent blue water that
    rolled its billows about the ship (we did not know there were sharks
    there.) We had also to range up and down through the town and look at the
    costumes. These are picturesque and fanciful, but not so varied as at
    Constantinople and Smyrna; the women of Beirout add an agony--in the two
    former cities the sex wear a thin veil which one can see through (and
    they often expose their ancles,) but at Beirout they cover their entire
    faces with dark-colored or black veils, so that they look like mummies,
    and then expose their breasts to the public. A young gentleman (I
    believe he was a Greek,) volunteered to show us around the city, and said
    it would afford him great pleasure, because he was studying English and
    wanted practice in that language. When we had finished the rounds,
    however, he called for remuneration--said he hoped the gentlemen would
    give him a trifle in the way of a few piastres (equivalent to a few five
    cent pieces.) We did so. The Consul was surprised when he heard it, and
    said he knew the young fellow's family very well, and that they were an
    old and highly respectable family and worth a hundred and fifty thousand
    dollars! Some people, so situated, would have been ashamed of the berth
    he had with us and his manner of crawling into it.

    At the appointed time our business committee reported, and said all
    things were in readdress--that we were to start to-day, with horses, pack
    animals, and tents, and go to Baalbec, Damascus, the Sea of Tiberias, and
    thence southward by the way of the scene of Jacob's Dream and other
    notable Bible localities to Jerusalem--from thence probably to the Dead
    Sea, but possibly not--and then strike for the ocean and rejoin the ship
    three or four weeks hence at Joppa; terms, five dollars a day apiece, in
    gold, and every thing to be furnished by the dragoman. They said we
    would lie as well as at a hotel. I had read something like that before,
    and did not shame my judgment by believing a word of it. I said nothing,
    however, but packed up a blanket and a shawl to sleep in, pipes and
    tobacco, two or three woollen shirts, a portfolio, a guide-book, and a
    Bible. I also took along a towel and a cake of soap, to inspire respect
    in the Arabs, who would take me for a king in disguise.

    We were to select our horses at 3 P.M. At that hour Abraham, the
    dragoman, marshaled them before us. With all solemnity I set it down
    here, that those horses were the hardest lot I ever did come across, and
    their accoutrements were in exquisite keeping with their style. One
    brute had an eye out; another had his tail sawed off close, like a
    rabbit, and was proud of it; another had a bony ridge running from his
    neck to his tail, like one of those ruined aqueducts one sees about Rome,
    and had a neck on him like a bowsprit; they all limped, and had sore
    backs, and likewise raw places and old scales scattered about their
    persons like brass nails in a hair trunk; their gaits were marvelous to
    contemplate, and replete with variety under way the procession looked
    like a fleet in a storm. It was fearful. Blucher shook his head and

    "That dragon is going to get himself into trouble fetching these old
    crates out of the hospital the way they are, unless he has got a permit."

    I said nothing. The display was exactly according to the guide-book, and
    were we not traveling by the guide-book? I selected a certain horse
    because I thought I saw him shy, and I thought that a horse that had
    spirit enough to shy was not to be despised.

    At 6 o'clock P.M., we came to a halt here on the breezy summit of a
    shapely mountain overlooking the sea, and the handsome valley where dwelt
    some of those enterprising Phoenicians of ancient times we read so much
    about; all around us are what were once the dominions of Hiram, King of
    Tyre, who furnished timber from the cedars of these Lebanon hills to
    build portions of King Solomon's Temple with.

    Shortly after six, our pack train arrived. I had not seen it before, and
    a good right I had to be astonished. We had nineteen serving men and
    twenty-six pack mules! It was a perfect caravan. It looked like one,
    too, as it wound among the rocks. I wondered what in the very mischief
    we wanted with such a vast turn-out as that, for eight men. I wondered
    awhile, but soon I began to long for a tin plate, and some bacon and
    beans. I had camped out many and many a time before, and knew just what
    was coming. I went off, without waiting for serving men, and unsaddled
    my horse, and washed such portions of his ribs and his spine as projected
    through his hide, and when I came back, behold five stately circus tents
    were up--tents that were brilliant, within, with blue, and gold, and
    crimson, and all manner of splendid adornment! I was speechless. Then
    they brought eight little iron bedsteads, and set them up in the tents;
    they put a soft mattress and pillows and good blankets and two snow-white
    sheets on each bed. Next, they rigged a table about the centre-pole, and
    on it placed pewter pitchers, basins, soap, and the whitest of towels
    --one set for each man; they pointed to pockets in the tent, and said we
    could put our small trifles in them for convenience, and if we needed
    pins or such things, they were sticking every where. Then came the
    finishing touch--they spread carpets on the floor! I simply said, "If
    you call this camping out, all right--but it isn't the style I am used
    to; my little baggage that I brought along is at a discount."

    It grew dark, and they put candles on the tables--candles set in bright,
    new, brazen candlesticks. And soon the bell--a genuine, simon-pure bell
    --rang, and we were invited to "the saloon." I had thought before that
    we had a tent or so too many, but now here was one, at least, provided
    for; it was to be used for nothing but an eating-saloon. Like the
    others, it was high enough for a family of giraffes to live in, and was
    very handsome and clean and bright-colored within. It was a gem of a
    place. A table for eight, and eight canvas chairs; a table-cloth and
    napkins whose whiteness and whose fineness laughed to scorn the things we
    were used to in the great excursion steamer; knives and forks,
    soup-plates, dinner-plates--every thing, in the handsomest kind of
    style. It was wonderful! And they call this camping out. Those
    stately fellows in baggy trowsers and turbaned fezzes brought in a
    dinner which consisted of roast mutton, roast chicken, roast goose,
    potatoes, bread, tea, pudding, apples, and delicious grapes; the viands
    were better cooked than any we had eaten for weeks, and the table made a
    finer appearance, with its large German silver candlesticks and other
    finery, than any table we had sat down to for a good while, and yet that
    polite dragoman, Abraham, came bowing in and apologizing for the whole
    affair, on account of the unavoidable confusion of getting under way for
    a very long trip, and promising to do a great deal better in future!

    It is midnight, now, and we break camp at six in the morning.

    They call this camping out. At this rate it is a glorious privilege to
    be a pilgrim to the Holy Land.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 42
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Mark Twain essay and need some advice, post your Mark Twain essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?