The rest of the crowd were mainly peasantry with basket-loads of stuff for market; but there was a liberal sprinkling among them of all the odds and ends of the Levant, with a Jew here and there, the inevitable Russian priest, and a dozen odd lots, of as many nationalities, whom it would have been difficult to classify.
And there was Police Constable Bedreddin Shah. You could not have missed noticing him, although I did not learn his name until afterwards. He came swaggering down the Jaffa Road with all the bullying arrogance of the newly enlisted Arab policeman. He shoved me aside, calling me a name that a drunken donkey-driver would hesitate to apply to a dog in the gutter. He was on his way to the lock-up that stands just inside the gate, and I wished him a year in it.
As he plunged into the crowd that checked and surged immediately in front of the line of Sikhs, a small man in Arab costume with the lower part of his face well covered by the kaffiyi,* rushed out from the corner behind the bootblacks and drove a long knife home to the hilt between the policeman’s shoulder-blades. I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t even sorry. [Head-dress that hangs down over the shoulders.]
Bedreddin Shah shrieked and fell forward. Blood gushed from the wound. The crowd surged in curiously, and then fell back before the advancing Sikhs. A British officer who had heard the victim’s cry came spurring his horse into the crowd from inside the gate. In his effort to get near the victim he only added to the confusion.
The murderer, who seemed in no particular hurry, dodged quietly in and out among the swarm of bewildered peasants, and in thirty seconds had utterly disappeared. A minute later I saw Grim offering his services as interpreter and stooping over the dying man to try to catch the one word he was struggling to repeat.
“Windy bellies without hearts in them.”
Djemal’s coffee shop is run by a Turkish gentleman whose real name is Yussuf. One name, and the shorter the better, had been plenty in the days when Djemal Pasha ran Jerusalem with iron ruthlessness, and consequent success of a certain sort. When Djemal was the Turkish Governor, every proprietor of every kind of shop had to stand in the doorway at attention whenever Djemal passed, and woe betide the laggard!
It would not have paid any one, in those days, to name any sort of shop after Djemal Pasha. Even the provider of the rope that throttled the offender would have made no profit, because the rope would simply have been looted from the nearest store. The hangman would have been the nearest soldier, whose pay was already two years in arrears. So Yussuf’s own name done in Turkish characters used to stand over the door before the British came.