A Visit to the Holy Land, Egypt, and Italy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 318 pages of information about A Visit to the Holy Land, Egypt, and Italy.

CHAPTER XI.

River Mishmir—­Saida—­Arnauts—­Desert-path—­Residence of Lady Hester Stanhope—­Beyrout—­The consul’s—­Uncomfortable quarters—­Sickness—­ The Bazaar—­Vexatious delays—­Departure from Beyrout—­Beautiful views—­Syrian costumes—­Damascus—­Aspect of the city—­House of the consul.

June 20th.

Shortly after five this morning we were in our saddles, and a few hours afterwards arrived at the beautiful river Mishmir, which is as broad as the Jordan, though it does not contain nearly so much water.  Next to the Jordan, however, this river is the largest we find on our journey, besides being a most agreeable object in a region so destitute of streams.  Its water is pure as crystal.

In ten hours we reached the town, and at once repaired to the convent, as not one of these cities contains an inn.  The little convent, with its tiny church, is situate at the end of a large courtyard, which is so thronged with horses and men, particularly with soldiers, that we had great difficulty in forcing our way through.  When we had at length cleared a passage for ourselves to the entrance, we were received with the agreeable intelligence that there was no room for us.  What was to be done?  We thought ourselves lucky in obtaining a little room where we could pass the night in a house belonging to a Greek family; beds were, however, out of the question; we had to lie on the hard stones.  In the courtyard a kind of camp had been pitched, in which twelve state-horses of the Emir {167} of Lebanon (creatures of the true Arab breed) were bivouacking among a quantity of Arnauts.

The Arnaut soldiers are universally feared, but more by friend than foe.  They are very turbulent, and behave in an overbearing manner towards the people.  The Count, my fellow-traveller, was even insulted in the street, not by a peasant, but by one of these military fellows.  These ill-disciplined troops are assembled every where, in order that they may be ready to attack whenever a disturbance occurs between the Druses and Maronites.  I consider, however, that the Arnauts are much more to be feared than either the Druses or the Maronites, through whose territories we afterwards journeyed without experiencing, in a single instance, either insult or injury.  I hardly think we should have escaped so well had we encountered a troop of these wild horsemen.

Among all the Turkish soldiers the Arnauts are the best dressed; with their short and full white skirts of linen or lawn, and tight trousers of white linen, a scarf round the middle, and a white or a red spencer, they closely resemble the Albanians.

June 21st.

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A Visit to the Holy Land, Egypt, and Italy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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