The Eye of Zeitoon - Talbot Mundy - ebook

The Eye of Zeitoon ebook

Talbot Mundy

0,0

Opis

Do you need to talk about Zeitoon? The only thing I can say is that the Turks have never won or won. They came once and built a fort on the opposite side of the mountains to impress us. We took this assault! We dropped all their guns down to the bottom of the stream and there they lie to this day!

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 479

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

CHAPTER 1. Parthians, Medes and Elamites

CHAPTER 2. “How did sunshine get into the garden? By whose leave came the wind?”

CHAPTER 3. “Sahib, there is always work for real soldiers!”

CHAPTER 4. “We are the robbers, effendi!”

CHAPTER 5. “Effendi, that is the heart of Armenia burning!”

CHAPTER 6. “Passing the buck to Allah!”

CHAPTER 7. “We hold you to your word!”

CHAPTER 8. “I go with that man!”

CHAPTER 9. “And you left your friend to help me?”

CHAPTER 10. “When I fire this pistol—”

CHAPTER 11. “That man’s dose is death, and he dies unshriven!”

CHAPTER 12. “America’s way with a woman is beyond belief!”

CHAPTER 13. “‘Take your squadron and go find him, Rustum Khan!’ And I, sahib, obeyed my lord bahadur’s orders.”

CHAPTER 14. “Rajput, I shall hang you if you make more trouble!”

CHAPTER 15. “Scenery to burst the heart!”

CHAPTER 16. “What care I for my belly, sahib, if you break my heart?”

CHAPTER 17. “I knew what to expect of the women!”

CHAPTER 18. “Per terram et aquam”

CHAPTER 19. “Such drilling as they have had—such little drilling!”

CHAPTER 20. “So few against so many! I see death, and I am not sorry!”

CHAPTER 21. “Those who survive this night shall have brave memories!”

CHAPTER 22. “God go with you to the States, effendim!”

CHAPTER 1. Parthians, Medes and Elamites

Oh ye, who tread the trodden path And keep the narrow law In famished faith that Judgment Day Shall blast your sluggard mists away And show what Moses saw! Oh thralls of subdivided time, Hours Measureless I sing That own swift ways to wider scenes, New-plucked from heights where Vision preens A white, unwearied wing! No creed I preach to bend dull thought To see what I shall show, Nor can ye buy with treasured gold The key to these Hours that unfold New tales no teachers know. Ye’ll need no leave o’ the laws o’ man, For Vision’s wings are free; The swift Unmeasured Hours are kind And ye shall leave all cares behind If ye will come with me! In vain shall lumps of fashioned stuff Imprison you about; In vain let pundits preach the flesh And feebling limits that enmesh Your goings in and out, I know the way the zephyrs took Who brought the breath of spring, I guide to shores of regions blest Where white, uncaught Ideas nest And Thought is strong o’ wing! Within the Hours that I unlock All customed fetters fall; The chains of drudgery release; Set limits fade; horizons cease For you who hear the call No trumpet note–no roll of drums, But quiet, sure and sweet– The self-same voice that summoned Drake, The whisper for whose siren sake They manned the Devon fleet, More lawless than the gray gull’s wait, More boundless than the sea, More subtle than the softest wind!      * * * * * Oh, ye shall burst the ties that bind If ye will come with me! –Salvete!

IT is written with authority of Tarsus that once it was no mean city, but that is a tale of nineteen centuries ago. The Turko-Italian War had not been fought when Fred Oakes took the fever of the place, although the stage was pretty nearly set for it and most of the leading actors were waiting for their cue. No more history was needed than to grind away forgotten loveliness.

Fred’s is the least sweet temper in the universe when the ague grips and shakes him, and he knows history as some men know the Bible–by fathoms; he cursed the place conqueror by conqueror, maligning them for their city’s sake, and if Sennacherib, who built the first foundations, and if Anthony and Cleopatra, Philip of Macedon, Timour-i-lang, Mahmoud, Ibrahim and all the rest of them could have come and listened by his bedside they would have heard more personal scandal of themselves than ever their contemporary chroniclers dared reveal.

All this because he insisted on ignoring the history he knew so well, and could not be held from bathing in the River Cydnus. Whatever their indifference to custom, Anthony and Cleopatra knew better than do that. Alexander the Great, on the other hand, flouted tradition and set Fred the example, very nearly dying of the ague for his pains, for those are treacherous, chill waters.

Fred, being a sober man and unlike Alexander of Macedon in several other ways, throws off fever marvelously, but takes it as some persons do religion, very severely for a little while. So we carried him and laid him on a nice white cot in a nice clean room with two beds in it in the American mission, where they dispense more than royal hospitality to utter strangers. Will Yerkes had friends there but that made no difference; Fred was quinined, low-dieted, bathed, comforted and reproved for swearing by a college-educated nurse, who liked his principles and disapproved of his professions just as frankly as if he came from her home-town. (Her name was Van-something-or-other, and you could lean against the Boston accent– just a little lonely-sounding, but a very rock of gentle independence, all that long way from home!)

Meanwhile, we rested. That is to say that, after accepting as much mission hospitality as was decent, considering that every member of the staff worked fourteen hours a day and had to make up for attention shown to us by long hours bitten out of night, we loafed about the city. And Satan still finds mischief.

We called on Fred in the beginning twice a day, morning and evening, but cut the visits short for the same reason that Monty did not go at all: when the fever is on him Fred’s feelings toward his own sex are simply blunt bellicose. When they put another patient in the spare bed in his room we copied Monty, arguing that one male at a time for him to quarrel with was plenty.

Monty, being Earl of Montdidier and Kirkudbrightshire, and a privy councilor, was welcome at the consulate at Mersina, twenty miles away. The consul, like Monty, was an army officer, who played good chess, so that that was no place, either, for Will Yerkes and me. Will prefers dime novels, if he must sit still, and there was none. And besides, he was never what you could call really sedative.

He and I took up quarters at the European hotel–no sweet abiding- place. There were beetles in the Denmark butter that they pushed on to the filthy table-cloth in its original one-pound tin; and there was a Turkish officer in riding pants and red morocco slippers, back from the Yemen with two or three incurable complaints. He talked out-of-date Turkish politics in bad French and eked out his ignorance of table manners with instinctive racial habit.

To avoid him between meals Will and I set out to look at the historic sights, and exhausted them all, real and alleged, in less than half a day (for in addition to a lust for ready-cut building stone the Turks have never cherished monuments that might accentuate their own decadence). After that we fossicked in the manner of prospectors that we are by preference, if not always by trade, eschewing polite society and hunting in the impolite, amusing places where most of the facts have teeth, sharp and ready to snap, but visible.

We found a khan* at last on the outskirts of the city, almost in sight of the railway line, that well agreed with our frame of mind. It was none of the newfangled, underdone affairs that ape hotels, with Greek managers and as many different prices for one service as there are grades of credulity, but a genuine two-hundred-year-old Turkish place, run by a Turk, and named Yeni Khan (which means the new rest house) in proof that once the world was younger. The man who directed us to the place called it a kahve;† but that means a place for donkeys and foot-passengers, and when we spoke of it as kahve† to the odabashi‡–the elderly youth who corresponds to porter, bell-boy and chambermaid in one–he was visibly annoyed.

Truly the place was a khan–a great bleak building of four high outer walls, surrounding a courtyard that was a yard deep with the dung of countless camels, horses, bullocks, asses; crowded with arabas, the four- wheeled vehicles of all the Near East, and smelly with centuries of human journeys’ ends.

Khans provide nothing except room, heat and water (and the heat costs extra); there is no sanitation for any one at any price; every guest dumps all his discarded rubbish over the balcony rail into the courtyard, to be trodden and wheeled under foot and help build the aroma. But the guests provide a picture without price that with the very first glimpse drives discomfort out of mind.

In that place there were Parthians, Medes and Elamites, and all the rest of the list. There was even a Chinaman. Two Hindus were unpacking bundles out of a creaking araba, watched scornfully by an unmistakable Pathan. A fat swarthy-faced Greek in black frock coat and trousers, fez, and slippered feet gesticulated with his right arm like a pump-handle while he sat on the balcony-rail and bellowed orders to a crowd mixed of Armenians, Italians, Maltese, Syrians and a Turk or two, who labored with his bales of cotton goods below. (The Italians eyed everybody sidewise, for there were rumors in those days of impending trouble, and when the Turk begins hostilities he likes his first opponents easy and ready to hand.)

There were Kurds, long-nosed, lean-lipped and suspicious, who said very little, but hugged long knives as they passed back and forth among the swarming strangers. They said nothing at all, those Kurds, but listened a very great deal.

Tall, mustached Circassians, with eighteen-inch Erzerum daggers at their waists, swaggered about as if they, and only they, were history’s heirs. It was expedient to get out of their path alertly, but they cringed into second place before the Turks, who, without any swagger at all, lorded it over every one. For the Turk is a conqueror, whatever else he ought to be. The poorest Turkish servant is race-conscious, and unshakably convinced of his own superiority to the princes of the conquered. One has to bear that fact in mind when dealing with the Turk; it colors all his views of life, and accounts for some of his famous unexpectedness.

Will and I fell in love with the crowd, and engaged a room over the great arched entrance. We were aware from the first of the dull red marks on the walls of the room, where bed-bugs had been slain with slipper heels by angry owners of the blood; but we were not in search of luxury, and we had our belongings and a can of insect-bane brought down from the hotel at once. The fact that stallions squealed and fought in the stalls across the courtyard scarcely promised us uninterrupted sleep; but sleep is not to be weighed in the balance against the news of eastern nights.

We went down to the common room close beside the main entrance, and pushed the door open a little way; the men who sat within with their backs against it would only yield enough to pass one person in gingerly at a time. We saw a sea of heads and hats and faces. It looked impossible to squeeze another human being in among those already seated on the floor, nor to make another voice heard amid all that babel.

But the babel ceased, and they did make room for us–places of honor against the far wall, because of our clean clothes and nationality. We sat wedged between a Georgian in smelly, greasy woolen jacket, and a man who looked Persian but talked for the most part French. There were other Persians beyond him, for I caught the word poul–money, the perennial song and shibboleth of that folk.

The day was fine enough, but consensus of opinion had it that snow was likely falling in the Taurus Mountains, and rain would fall the next day between the mountains and the sea, making roads and fords impassable and the mountain passes risky. So men from the ends of earth sat still contentedly, to pass earth’s gossip to and fro–an astonishing lot of it. There was none of it quite true, and some of it not nearly true, but all of it was based on fact of some sort.

Men who know the khans well are agreed that with experience one learns to guess the truth from listening to the ever-changing lies. We could not hope to pick out truth, but sat as if in the pit of an old-time theater, watching a foreign-language play and understanding some, but missing most of it.

There was a man who drew my attention at once, who looked and was dressed rather like a Russian–a man with a high-bridged, prominent, lean nose –not nearly so bulky as his sheepskin coat suggested, but active and strong, with a fiery restless eye. He talked Russian at intervals with the men who sat near him at the end of the room on our right, but used at least six other languages with any one who cared to agree or disagree with him. His rather agreeable voice had the trick of carrying words distinctly across the din of countless others.

“What do you suppose is that man’s nationality?” I asked Will, shouting to him because of the roar, although he sat next me.

“Ermenie!” said a Turk next but one beyond Will, and spat venomously, as if the very name Armenian befouled his mouth.

But I was not convinced that the man with the aquiline nose was Armenian. He looked guilty of altogether too much zest for life, and laughed too boldly in Turkish presence. In those days most Armenians thereabouts were sad. I called Will’s attention to him again.

“What do you make of him?”

“He belongs to that quieter party in the opposite corner.” (Will puts two and two together all the time, because the heroes of dime novels act that way.) “They’re Gypsies, yet I’d say he’s not–”

“He and the others are jingaan,” said a voice beside me in English, and I looked into the Persian’s gentle brown eyes. “The jingaan are street robbers pure and simple,” be added by way of explanation.

“But what nationality?”

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.