Page:Lands of the Saracen 1859.djvu/31

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FAMINE AND FEASTING. 21 Frencli woman, with two ugly and peevish children (one at the breast), in the next room, and three French gentlemen in the other — a merchant, a young man with hair of extraordinary length, and a filaieur, or silk-manufacturer, middle-aged and cynical. The first is a gentleman in every sense of the word, the latter endurable, but the young Absalom is my aversion. I am subject to involuntary likings and dislikings, for which I can give no reason, and though the man may be in every way amiable, his presence is very distasteful to me. We take a pipe of consolation, but it only whets our appe- tites. We give up our promenade, for exercise is still worse ; and at last the sun goes down, and yet no sign of dinner. Our pavilion becomes a Tower of Famine, and the Italian recites Dante. Finally a strange face appears at the door. By Api- cius ! it is a servant from the hotel, with iron bedsteads, camp- tables, and some large chests, which breathe an odor of the Commissary Department. We go stealthily down to the kitchen, and watch the unpacking. Our dinner is there, sure enough, but alas I it is not yet cooked. Patience is no more • my companion manages to filch a raw onion and a crust of bread, which we share, and roll under our tongues as a sweet morsel, and it gives us strength for another hour. The Greek dragoman and cook, who are sent into Quarantine for our sakes, take compassion on us ; the fires are kindled in the cold furnaces ; savory steams creep up the stairs ; the preparations increase, and finally climax in the rapturous announcement : '* Messieurs, dinner is ready." The soup is liquified bliss ; the cotelettes d^agneau are coteleties de bonheur ; and as for that broad dish of Syrian larks — Heaven forgive us the regret, that more songs had not been silenced for our sake I The meal is all