Yussuf Dakmar was gone twenty minutes, and whether he begged, bought or stole did not transpire, but he returned with a pint flask containing stuff that looked and smelt enough like whisky to get by if there had been a label on the bottle. He poured a powder into it in Jeremy’s presence, the two of them squatting on the floor of the corridor with the bottle between them so that no one else might see what was taking place.
“Now, you would better get rid of that fellow Omar while you attend to this,” Yussuf Dakmar cautioned him. “Can you think of any way of doing that?”
“Oh, easily!” Jeremy answered. “He is a great one for the women. I will tell him there is a pretty Armenian girl in the car behind. He will run like any other Turk to have a good look at her.”
“Very well. I will wait here. But understand now; I am a dangerous man. You have fortune in one hand, but destruction in the other!”
“Very well; but this may take me an hour, and if you grow impatient, and that Indian sees you peering into the compartment after having watched you and me talking all this time, he’ll grow suspicious.”
“All right; I’ll go to the car behind. As soon as you have the letter, come and tell me.”
So Jeremy came back and entertained Grim and me with a burlesque account of the interview, after whispering to Narayan Singh to give the alarm in the event of Yussuf Dakmar returning forward to spy on us. Grim put the doped whisky into his valise after a sniff at it, instead of throwing it out of the window at my suggestion; and after a suitable interval he went out in the part of the Turk to look for the imaginary beautiful Armenian. Then I gave Jeremy the fake letter back, and went to sleep.
So it’s no use asking me what the country looks like between Ludd and Haifa. I didn’t even wake up to see the Lake of Tiberias, Sea of Galilee, or Bahr Tubariya, as it is variously called. A rather common sickness is what Sir Richard Burton called Holylanditis and I’ve had it, as well as the croup and measles in my youth. Some folk never recover from it, and to them a rather ordinary sheet of water and ugly modern villages built on ruins look like the pictures that an opium smoker sees.
The ruins and the history do interest me, but you can’t see them from the train, and after a night without sleep there seemed to me something more profitable in view than to hang from a window and buy fish that undoubtedly had once swum in Galilee water, but that cost a most unrighteous price and stank as if straight from a garbage heap.
The whole train reeked of putrid fish when we reached Haifa in the evening, in time to watch the sun go down across the really glorious Bay of Acre.
“The rest will be simple!”