Puslapio vaizdai

dulging in them. Once in a while a runner brings to some member of our colony, from a river near Kirmanshahan or from the far-away Caspian, a real fish, which at once becomes the foundation of a state dinner-party.

Mehmet Ali is so happy as to possess, in addition to his other attainments, the art of letters. He accordingly keeps strict tale of his purchases, rendering an account. of them every day to the khanum. I have, however, to record a day of despair when the khanum temporarily shook off from her feet the dust of Hamadan, leaving the hapless Head of the Desert and the Prince All Alone to shift for themselves. The Head of the Desert, being a man of affairs, therefore handed over the housekeeping to the very incompetent hands of the Prince All Alone. The beauty of this arrangement was that the Prince All Alone knew scarcely a word of Persian, despite Habib's flattering comment that his progress in it was so rapid as to crack the air! Nevertheless I gravely pretended to take Mehmet Ali's accounts. And when I could n't get it through my thick firengi head what Mehmet Ali was driving at, Mehmet Ali would draw little pictures in my account-book to illustrate his expenditures. Even then I sometimes hesitated between an egg and a turnip or a hen and a partridge.

It was that latter fowl of calamity which at last ruffled our relations. The sah'b one day brought home some partridges. It so happened that Mehmet Ali also bought partridges that day; and, lo! the price of them was twice that of the

sah'b's partridges. My vocabulary being too limited to do justice to the occasion, the sah'b took Mehmet Ali over. I don't know whether he called upon the washers of the dead to carry Mehmet Ali out, but he named Mehmet Ali the son of a burned father, and he cast in Mehmet Ali's teeth that last of all insults, "Mehmet Ali, you have no zeal." He also docked Mehmet Ali one toman of his pay, which Mehmet Ali took very much to heart. No cook in Hamadan, he stammered in wrath, bought more cheaply than he.

It chanced that there was to be football that afternoon,-behold the AngloSaxon in foreign parts!-and after football the neighboring firengis were to come to us for tea. Cakes, therefore, were to be made, loaves baked, samovars lighted, china and silver set forth. When I hurried home at the end of the game to receive the hungry host, not a cake did I find, not a loaf, not even a single servant. Your Anglo-Saxon, however, is not so easily stumped. The firengis had their tea, if a little late and not quite so plenteous as we had planned. But the subtle Mehmet Ali, although failing to blacken our faces to the degree we hoped, after all made his point. He knew, and we knew, and each of us knew the other knew, that another cook capable of making both pilau and pancakes was not to be picked up in Hamadan-outside of some one else's kitchen. For the sake of the greater good, therefore, we that day learned the lesson of not insisting upon a lesser. And the next day Mehmet Ali treated us to

quite the most magnificent chocolate-cake in his repertory. When we looked at it our mouths watered. When we tasted it we sent for Mehmet Ali.

"Mehmet Ali," said the sah'b in all gravity, "may your hand feel no pain." "Sah'b," replied Mehmet Ali, "may honey be to your soul."

Do you know, partridges grew a little cheaper after that!


Be generous, O my friend, and avail thyself of life

Before they proclaim it as an event that such a person is not.

-SADI: "The Flower-Garden."

THE road and the river part company at the tip of the tea-garden. A sort of widening green island is there, between a crook of the stream and a wall of boulders that would not be Persian if it were perfectly straight. Yet the tall poplars of the garden would not be Persian if they were not planted in perfectly straight lines. Transversely or obliquely, however, the trees keep to one another no such relation as they might in the West. They stand very close together, making privacies between aisle and aisle. This is the quieter and roomier part of the tea-garden, where men come to enjoy the leisure of the East. A boy brings them a rug, a samovar, a jug of water, and some tiny tea-glasses, and there underneath the bough they sit hour after hour. They generally escape my prying eye, I notice, by eschewing the neighborhood of the wall. I do not blame them, for the road on the outer side of that low wall is fabu

lously dusty. Who knows how many thousand years people have passed that way between the city and a certain happy valley in the mountain-Darius, Xerxes the Great, kings, the horsemen and peasants of to-day, strollers from afar, like Alexander of Macedon or me, jingling mules, dejected donkeys, flocks and herds. that late in the afternoon or early in the morning move to and from the town, as it were in a pillar of cloud?

The broken curve of the river-bank is a more popular part of the tea-garden, especially in the spring. Then is a short season when a chocolate-colored torrent foams past the place of poplars with an uproar that we in our far-away compound can hear across the open fields at night. As the snow recedes toward the top of the mountain, however, and as the mills and gardens at its foot need more and more water, the river becomes nothing but a gully of sand and boulders. But a trickle in the bottom of it seldom fails to make an illusion of coolness, even when coolness is most an illusion. The tall trees are able to add to the illusion, and the fields of wheat and poppy on the farther bank, where other poplars stroll at random with pollarded willows.

I, too, like to stroll there of a late afternoon, admiring and envying the patrons. of the tea-garden, who sit on their rugs along the edge of the river. What I most envy them is a certain cabinet particulier near the tea-house, carpeted with grass and inclosed by four walls of poplar-trees. Whether a special price is charged for this private room I do not know, but I have never seen more than one party in it at a time. They always remind me, those Persian tea-parties, of the gay little painted. pictures which it is now so much the fashion for us firengis to collect. The guests do not wear quite such beautiful clothes, it is true. The Persians dress very soberly compared with un-Europeanized Turks, if with better taste and a truer sense of color. But the green of the teagarden, the dark lower purple and upper white of the mountain seen through its trees, the miraculous overarching blue,


struments and of the voices that accompany them. Most of my readers, I fear, would be content to have it so. That music is of a school apart from ours. It moves within the briefest gamut of half, perhaps of quarter, tones, and characteristic of Persian singing is the yodeler's break into or out of falsetto. Most Westerners profess to hear in it nothing but a monotonous screech. But in the distance, or at dusk, across the rush of the river, there is for me something strangely disturbing in those high, endless, melancholy songs.

give the picture the characteristic Persian liveliness. Then my teadrinkers sit on the very rugs, in the very posture, of portraits by Behzad or Ustad Mohammed. About them are grouped the selfsame jugs and bowls, and sometimes they play the same quaint musical instruments. Wherein the miniatures of a museum fail in vividness is suggesting the sound of those in

The tea-house stands in the middle of the long, narrow tea-garden, neighborly to the road and the river. Like every other house in Persia, it is made of mud, cunningly shaped, whitened, and decorated out of all resemblance to its native element. On the ground floor, arcades give upon the garden. Above, open galleries survey the mountain and the river, the gardens at its foot, the flat-topped, tawny town, the hollow plain. Behind the tea-house a fountain splashes on a narrow terrace, which looks into the long aisles between the poplar-trees of which I have spoken. In front, approached by a hospitable gap in the wall of boulders, is a larger terrace. Much of it is paved with flag

stones; more of it is paved with clear, green water, set oblong between two bands of turf and two rows of tall poplars. This great pool is longer than it is wide, but it is wide enough to hold a picture of the arcaded tea-house and of the slim bordering tree-trunks. The water of the pool runs away through a little stone channel at the farther end, pouring into a smaller pool on a lower level. This is where roses and cucumbers keep one another company under apricot-trees. Beyond is an open stable of boulders. Horses stamp and neigh there while their riders sip glass after glass of tea. You should see the magnificent saddle-cloths, the saddles with a high pommel and a strapped leather cushion, the bridles of bright and jingling things. And the cruel. bits! And the shovel stirrups! And the clouds of flies!

But the pool that is the place. That is where rugs make a frame for the still water, when shadows grow long in summer. That is where, in the warm dusk, through whole nights of Ramazan, candles flicker in small glass globes or white accordion lanterns hang, writing fanciful things on the dark mirror below. That is where turbans and felt caps bob most

together, and where talk goes forward that I would give-well, not quite the world to hear, since the world does not happen to be mine. What tales must go about that quiet pool-of Assad, of Habib's sudden journey to Kazvin, of Fath Ali's minx of a wife, of the governor and his grain, of the highwayman Abbas and that affair with the Swede! What miracles must be recorded of afrit and of jinn! What stories told of the mad firengi! What lies believed of Russian or Englishman, of German or Turk! But they who believe them would never believe anything so strange as that in the land of a certain foreigner who sometimes moons along the river there is no such thing as a tea-house or a garden with rooms of poplar-trees or a pool where rich and poor may sit side by side on rugs in the cool of the day and sip the amber of con


I smile when I remember how in that astonishing land the inhabitants, lacking park benches, are driven to sit in hotel lobbies and the waiting-rooms of railway stations. The Latin and the Teuton have very fair equivalents for a tea-garden. Why was that grain of simplicity left out of the simple Anglo-Saxon? Is it that long centuries of a rainy mother


isle have frightened us out of idling in the open? To walk, to ride, to play games, to camp, to explore, to do a thousand energetic things outdoors, yes; but to foregather with our friends under the greenwood tree and taste the taste of life, never! Speak to me not of barrooms or of tea-rooms. Both are of dubious report. And in both they look blackly at you if you stay more than ten minutes, while if you proposed to spend a day or

a night they would call the police.

Still, even I

have never sat in one of those

poplar isles or in the green room by the river or beside that perfect pool. The other firengis tell me that it is not a thing. to do, and unhappily I can see it. Not that I see why a man should n't sit still if he wants to, or that I see too well why East is East and West is West. But I can see that a man must be what he is, or else he is nothing. I can see that what has been done in

this world has been done by carrying on your own tradition. I can see that in vain does a Lafcadio Hearn dress himself in alien silks. I can see, too, that it would not please the other patrons of the tea-garden if I sat among them. They look upon me as unclean, a man of no God, sojourning among them for reasons dark and dire. So, having strolled at sunset in the wheatand poppy-fields of the farther bank, I follow the river to a certain bridge, or jump across it from rock to rock, and come down the dusty road in the twilight. When I reach the tip of the tea-garden I walk as slowly as I can, looking over the low wall. In front of that gap in the boulders I drop my stick or tie my shoe, and snatch a glimpse of ghostly turbans grouped around the pool, of pipe bowls suddenly reddening, of sunken lights, and one unsteady star. I catch a rumor of water or of incomprehensible words. And as I go home in the dark I hear behind me the plucking of dolorous strings, voices uplifted like a cry from another world.

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