The Lands of the Saracen eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 452 pages of information about The Lands of the Saracen.
The aspect of Jaffa is exceedingly picturesque.  It is built on a hill, and the land for many miles around it being low and flat, its topmost houses overlook all the fields of Sharon.  The old harbor, protected by a reef of rocks, is on the north side of the town, but is now so sanded up that large vessels cannot enter.  A number of small craft were lying close to the shore.  The port presented a different scene when the ships of Hiram, King of Tyre, came in with the materials for the Temple of Solomon.  There is but one gate on the land side, which is rather strongly fortified.  Outside of this there is an open space, which we found filled with venders of oranges and vegetables, camel-men and the like, some vociferating in loud dispute, some given up to silence and smoke, under the shade of the sycamores.

We rode under the heavily arched and towered gateway, and entered the bazaar.  The street was crowded, and there was such a confusion of camels, donkeys, and men, that we made our way with difficulty along the only practicable street in the city, to the sea-side, where Francois pointed out a hole in the wall as the veritable spot where Jonah was cast ashore by the whale.  This part of the harbor is the receptacle of all the offal of the town; and I do not wonder that the whale’s stomach should have turned on approaching it.  The sea-street was filled with merchants and traders, and we were obliged to pick our way between bars of iron, skins of oil, heaps of oranges, and piles of building timber.  At last we reached the end, and, as there was no other thoroughfare, returned the same way we went, passed out the gate, and took the road to Ramleh and Jerusalem.

But I hear the voice of Francois, announcing, “Messieurs, le diner est pret.” We are encamped just beside the pool of Ramleh, and the mongrel children of the town are making a great noise in the meadow below it.  Our horses are enjoying their barley; and Mustapha stands at the tent-door tying up his sacks.  Dogs are barking and donkeys braying all along the borders of the town, whose filth and dilapidation are happily concealed by the fig and olive gardens which surround it.  I have not curiosity enough to visit the Greek and Latin Convents embedded in its foul purlieus, but content myself with gazing from my door upon the blue hills of Palestine, which we must cross to-morrow, on our way to Jerusalem.

Chapter III.

From Jaffa to Jerusalem.

The Garden of Jaffa—­Breakfast at a Fountain—­The Plain of Sharon—­The Ruined Mosque of Ramleh—­A Judean Landscape—­The Streets of Ramleh—­Am I in Palestine?—­A Heavenly Morning—­The Land of Milk and Honey—­Entering the Hill-Country—­The Pilgrim’s Breakfast—­The Father of Lies—­A Church of the Crusaders—­The Agriculture of the Hills—­The Valley of Elah—­Day-Dreams—­The Wilderness—­The Approach—­We see the Holy City.

         —­“Through the air sublime,
  Over the wilderness and o’er the plain;
  Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
  The Holy City, lifted high her towers.”

Project Gutenberg
The Lands of the Saracen from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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