Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/858

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holy triangle, and acquit myself of the prescribed prayers; and, moreover, I am going to worship at the shrine of Sidi-Máyas, where I shall perform the three hand-springs, the three somersaults, and the three holy groans, and thus cleanse my soul from sins past and future for three times three solar years."

We passed several well-cultivated fields, and stopped at a camp of field-laborers, where my guide purchased some manioc-roots for our dinner, and informed our companion that he could supply his wants for a single copper coin.[1]

"Pilgrims carry neither copper nor silver," said Ben Khelpus, "for Yesha supplies all their wants. No, I have no money," he added; "I wish, though, I had; my dram-skin is nearly empty, and these Caffres[2] will not fill it for me. I shall have to use my club if Allah does not soften their hearts."

The day was oppressively hot, and the sun had passed the meridian, when we at last reached a brook at the foot of a wooded hill. Here we decided to cook our dinner, and, while my companions gathered a supply of fire-wood, I drove away two hogs that offended us by their smell and their greedy grunts. My guide assured me that the Monakees not only tolerate, but fatten and eat these unclean animals—an assertion which seemed hardly credible till it was confirmed by some very suspicious circumstances.

After chasing the brutes out of sight, I ascended to the top of the hill, which afforded a good lookout over the surrounding country. Nearly all the uplands are covered with plantations of poison-berries, and the valleys with pest-weeds, so that the useful products are almost confined to the fruits of a few orchards and manioc-fields. In the rear of the cliffs several acres of ground were inclosed with curious wire-fences, and at the end of the first field I found an open shed containing two plows of excellent workmanship. No plowman or horses were in sight, but higher up I met an old man carrying a heavy tub with a sort of black mold, which he scattered here and there to fertilize his fields. The weight of the tub seemed to bear heavily upon him, for I saw him stagger under his load and clutch at the trees to support himself.

"This labor, father, has overtaxed your strength," said I, when I met him.

The old man put down his tub and had to pant for breath before he could reply. "Yes, it is very hard," said he; "nor is this the worst part of my work: I have to fetch the mold from my garden and carry it up this steep hill."

"Do you live far from here?" I inquired.

  1. Jedeed, a small coin, the tenth part of an Arabian denar.
  2. Unbelievers. Caffre, as well as Giaour, is derived from Gebir—the Gebers, or Fire-worshipers of Western Persia, who so obstinately resisted the inroads of El Islam, that their name became a synonym of "infidel."