Irene the Missionary


THE boat was oared into what might be described as a watery alcove, imperfectly fenced from the strength of the sea by a shapeless and half-ruinous jetty, and shadowed by blind walls of sombre and massive edifices.

It struck our untraveled American girl with immense astonishment to discover that the wharf on which she set foot was composed partly of columns of Egyptian granite, while others were lying at hand in the clear sea-water, their polished gray looking blue and very precious. She had never seen above a dozen granite columns in her own land, and probably not a single one that was polished. The pillars of her father’s tabernacle were pine beams fluted with clapboard casings.

“Why don’t they pull those out and use them? ” she asked hastily. " What a waste! ”

Before this great question could be settled she was in the principal thoroughfare of the Beirut of that time, — a narrow and crooked alley, broken into all sorts of angles by irregularly placed buildings, and so obscured by their lofty stone-walls that she thought of a dark closet. It was very dirty, too, and haunted by odors of decaying vegetables and refuse, and none the sweeter for the generally shabby Orientals who lounged through it. There was a gutter of running water down the middle, which seemed merely to waste its time and labor there, effecting no purification. Passing a glum, ugly edifice, which Payson said was a public bath, they had to pick their way among runlets and puddles. Here and there was a café, with a slender array of nargilehs and copper coffee-pots ; or a manufactory with one room, where turbaned men were weaving a carpet; or a cuddy where some squatting creature was boring a pipestem; or a shop gay with red shoes and yellow slippers. Then, while Irene supposed that she had just entered the city, she saw a little in advance a tall arch of light, and perceived that she was near the outer gate-way.

Here an Arab awaited them with horses, which had not been brought into the town on account of the pavements, too uneven and too slippery with refuse for safe riding.

Outside the gate was a broad glare of sand; beyond rose on all sides a large, gently-sloping amphitheatre of greenery, flecked abundantly with yellow, flatroofed, stone houses, some of them exhibiting graceful Saracenic arches. It was a most beautiful spectacle, and very surprising in its contrasts. The sand seemed as barren as sand could be, and yet out of it sprang a mass of the richest and brightest verdure, bedecked with luxuriance of blossoms. To look at the dry, drifting, yellow sand, you would have said that naught could grow in it. To look at the gigantic cactus hedges, the dark green groves of lemons and oranges, the multitudinous mulberry-trees, and the profusion of flowering plants, you would have judged that they must have been charmed out of one of the richest soils of earth. Yet, by some magic of nature, the sand was the sole mother of this plenty.

“ You see what the ocean moisture and a very little irrigation can do,” said Payson. “ A cactus leaf stuck into this sand makes a huge plant, and a row of leaves makes a rampart. What could you raise on a sea-shore drift in New England? ”

They mounted their horses and rode on at a walk through a winding lane. On either side were hedges of pricklypear, the contorted, leaf-built stems measuring four or five yards in length, and the leaves themselves ten or twelve inches. Within these thorny barriers orchards whispered to the breeze and gardens poured their oblations of perfume. Yet at every step the horses sank in deep sand, unstained by a single blade of herbage, and apparently as unfruitful as snow. Where naught was planted nothing grew, and where aught was planted everything grew.

Early as it was in the day, the natives were up and out. Springy mountaineers, who had left their eagle-nests of villages two hours before, saluted the travelers with a deep-toned naharkum saiced, or a cheerful subhac bel khiar. The grave, dark men in striped overcoats, who held their heads so high and looked so unconquerable, were Druses. The gayer, fairer, gentler-voiced fellows in blue or scarlet jackets and blue muslin trousers were Maronites, or Greek Syrians, the descendants of the ancient Phœnician population. A jaunty horseman, armed with dagger, scimitar, and pistols heavy enough for bludgeons, belonging probably to the howaleyeh or mounted constabulary, passed them in silence, with an insolent Moslem stare. A muleteer, whose comical bare legs stuck straight out across the huge load of his beast, drew forth his purse from his girdle with an air of munificence, and tossed an invisible coin into the lap of a hideous beggar.

“ That was the muleteer’s mite,” smiled Payson. “ He gave a pará, or the tenth of a cent. But he accompanied it with a benediction, and the beggar returned him another. If these Syrians meant half the religion they talk, they would be the salt of the earth.”

Five or six hundred yards from the city gate the party turned into a narrower road, or lane, also hedged in with cactus and bordered by gardens. At the end of this lane rose a plain, massive, and rather imposing mansion, built, like all the Beirut houses, of large hewn blocks of yellow limestone, and lifting its flat roof to the height of three tall stories. An open gallery in the second story, faced with a graceful Saracenic arch, gave its severe front sufficient ornament.

“ That is the principal mission house,” explained Mr. Payson. “ There is the chapel, the printing-press, and the family of Brother Kirkwood, our moderator, as we call him.”

“ What a noble building! ” exclaimed both the women, obviously delighted with this promise of comfortable homes.

“Dear me! so it is,” said Payson, looking up with an air of surprise; “ I am almost afraid that we shall yet be visited with judgments for our luxury. The good people at home talk about us as martyrs; but that is far finer than an American parsonage. St. Paul did n’t do his missionarying in such wise,”

“ But St. Paul did n’t have a printing-press,” argued Irene. “He did n’t have to teach civilization as well as Christianity. He preached among nations more civilized than his own.”

“ To be sure,” chimed in Mrs. Payson. “ And I do think that when we go among half-civilized people we deserve a cosy home. ”

The missionary smiled at the feminine epithet “ cosy,” but did not scoff at it.

“There is something in that,” he conceded. “ Nevertheless, too much of the church’s money is spent on the machinery, and too little reaches the spiritual field of tillage. I am sometimes reminded of a scheme of mine, when I was a farmer’s boy, for collecting maple sap. To save the trouble of going from tree to tree and bringing the pails, I built an immense system of troughs, running all through the grove like a monstrous spider web, and terminating in a main trough which emptied into my boiling kettle. Then I waited for my sap to come, and I never saw the first drop. Not until night-fall did I fully discover and concede that it took all my sap merely to wet the troughs.”

“ Oh, Mr. Payson!” begged Irene. “Do be careful where you tell that story.”

By this time they were near the rude gate-way of the little inclosure which fronted the Mission House. Down a narrow stairway of stone, which led from the second story to the ground, ran a dozen or more of eager people, some in European and some in Oriental attire, all exhibiting the glee of welcome. They were “ Brother ” Kirkwood, his pale and pensive wife, his two pretty daughters, three or four pupils of the female school, a bearded native assistant or two, and three Beirutee servants.

There was a simple, warm-hearted greeting, very pleasant to look upon. It was such a greeting as one might expect between two men of sweet character and purpose in life, who had held for years a companionship of elevated sympathy and benevolent labor, and had never yet seen occasion to withstand each other to the face.

Kirkwood, by the way, was a very different apostle in appearance and manner from the pale and gently grave Payson. He was large in body, and had a broad, high-colored, farmer-like face, a voice fit to call the cattle on a thousand hills, a merry eye, and a ready smile. He shook hands with the two ladies in a style which made our bookish Irene think of the oak which closed upon the fists of Milo. His miscellaneous household he introduced, with compendious humor, as “ My wife and daughters and happy family.”

“ You will find that some of them are foreigners and speak nothing but tongues,” he said to Irene. “ But we get on as sweetly together as if there had never been a misunderstanding at Babel, — and in fact a little more so. There is something in learning another man’s language which seems to make a bosom friend of him. I positively fear that I should be quarrelsome in a population which all spoke English.”

Irene exchanged kisses with gentle Mrs. Kirkwood, as well as with the two willowy brunettes, her daughters. It seemed to her that they were hardly country women, so marked were they by a certain Levantine softness of bearing. Then she was startled and almost shocked by the fact that the servants and the two youngest pupils only took her hand to kiss it.

“ You will get used to that,” smiled Mrs. Kirkwood. “ We cannot introduce new manners, and we have given up trying.”

Irene scarcely replied. She was staring with astonishment at the regular features and magnificent eyes of one of the elder pupils.

“ Is n’t she pretty! ” she exclaimed, quite forgetting that the young person had saluted her in English. “ Is she a Greek ? ”

The girl’s clear, pale cheeks filled with roses, and the tortoise-shell colors in her dark eyes sparkled.

“ Not a scrap of a Greek! ” shouted Mr. Kirkwood. “ A native of Mount Lebanon. I suppose you expected to find us all as black as Ethiopians. We ’ll show you prettier girls than Saada,” he added, perhaps anxious to counteract the unspiritualizing effects of Irene’s compliment. “ Is n’t that so, Saada? ”

“ Yes, sir,” meekly replied Saada, but meanwhile glancing at her admirer with an expression of wondering thanks, as at a queen who had given her pearls and diamonds.

“ You will find many interesting people here,” said Mrs. Kirkwood. “ The Syrians arc very engaging, as well as very pitiable; they have the graces and vices of a fallen aristocracy. Beirut is the choicest of all the mission stations. I have learned to feel that there is hardly any other place in the world so contenting. I fear that if I should go back to America, I might be homesick.”

Meanwhile Mr. Kirkwood was leading the upward way into what he called his rookery.

“ I suppose, Miss Grant,” he said, “ that you think I live here like a nabob in a bungalow. Well, it is rather nabobish. But there arc a good many people under my big roof, and a good deal of hard work goes on here. Hallo! here I am waiting on the young lady, like an old-bachelor beau. Where ’s Mrs. Payson? My dear good friend, let me pull you up this stone ladder, and thank you meanwhile for turning our Paul into a Peter. I must say that, to my mind, that is one of the prettiest things in Peter’s history, that he would lead about a wife and a wife’s sister.”

Irene noticed with pleasure that the Kirkwood girls, the school pupils, and even the servants followed close on Mr. Payson, and seemed to catch at opportunities of touching him, as though the hem of his garment wrought miracles. Evidently all young people, and the humbler sort of folk also, loved this thoughtful sympathizer with human nature as she herself loved him. Saada alone diverged from the majority, and inclined toward her newly-found admirer. Irene passed an arm about her as they mounted the stairway together, and was almost startled to find the young Syrian heart beating with excitement.

“ How old are you? ” she asked, as if querying how mature that heart might be.

“Fourteen,” replied Saada, responding to this small token of interest with a look of gratitude brilliant enough to reward an offer of marriage.

“ Fourteen! I thought you must be eighteen,” said Irene, staring at the fully developed little figure.

“ No, Miss Grant, only fourteen.”

“Why do you call me Miss Grant? We are going to be close friends. I want you to call me Irene.”

“ I think I had better call you Ya Sitty,” returned Saada, shyly.

“ But I am not a city, — not even a village,” laughed Irene.

“ Not city,” said Saada, puzzled by the pun. “ Ya Sit-ty,” she repeated, sounding both the t’s. “ It means Oh My Lady.”

With a laugh at the magnificence of the title, the Lady Irene entered the cool spaciousness of the Mission House.


The massiveness and roominess and breeziness of the Mission House pleased a young lady accustomed to wooden dwellings of a Nuremberg toy architecture, such as we build and admire in America.

She even liked the careless simplicity with which it was finished, and the truly Oriental plainness and inexpensiveness of its few movables. There was a great saloon, thirty feet by twenty, and some fifteen feet in height, which seemed to her little less than princely, although it had scarcely any furniture besides a cushioned settee running around three sides of it, while its ceiling was made of rudely carved slats resting on huge rafters of Lebanon pine, also slightly carved and touched in black along their edges.

Then there was a wide hall, almost as lordly as the saloon, closing at one end into an alcove for the reception of visitors, into which flamed the light of an ample, triple-arched window. The floor of the alcove was raised six inches above the rest of the hall, and along two sides of it ran very low settees, or sofas, covered and cushioned in colored muslin. The alcove was the leewan (Turkish, deewan, or diwan); the window was the comandaloon ; the sofa, the mukaad. A dining-room, a single large guest chamber, containing little beside an iron bedstead, and a wing which included the kitchen and the servitors’ rooms made up the rest of this story.

In the solidly vaulted basement were the printing-rooms, a chapel of respectable dimensions, and a stable. In the upper story were the bedrooms of the family and of the girlish Syrian pupils. Above all was a terrace of solid cement, two feet or more in thickness, and sloped enough to shed rain. The floors everywhere were of large squares of limestone, very sparingly provided with heavy and coarse mattings. It was all simple, strong, dignified, breezy, and agreeable. Irene, a little disposed toward patrician tastes, perhaps, looked about her with pleasure. Mrs. Payson admitted that it was comfortable, but secretly added that it was not cosy.

The atmosphere was a luxury. There was a sybaritic softness about it which made one feel that merely to breathe was pleasure enough. A languid breeze flowed through the pointed arches of the comandaloon, and brought with it a very faint perfume of fresh vegetation and of flowers. Presently there was a muchneeded breakfast of coffee, eggs, chicken, dried fruits, and bread. Then came a chance for that cleansing which the passenger just off a steamer longs for as one of the chiefest of luxuries.

During the forenoon visitors dropped in to welcome the new arrivals. First appeared the wife and daughter of a Syrian neighbor: the mother, a dark and somewhat worn woman of forty; the girl, a willowy yet nicely-rounded figure of eighteen. Irene took special note of this damsel’s delicate waist, and of the fine way in which its slenderness was set forth by a large shawl, twisted loosely into a girdle and barely hanging on the hips. Her complexion was very dark, her profile strongly Oriental, and her black eyes languishing. She had a sauntering, simpering, fine-lady air, as though her tarbooshed noddle harbored not a little vanity. The salutations of this pair were so many, and their compliments (when translated) sounded so much like gross flattery, that Irene hardly knew how to keep her countenance, and was relieved when they turned their supple backs and dawdled away.

The next caller was a great surprise to a young American who had expected to be a rarity of whiteness in Syria.

“ Come into the parlor and see a real Beirut lady,” said Amy Kirkwood. “ She belongs to the people who have to be received in the great room. She has her Syrian finery on, and I think she is lovely.”

What was Irene’s wonder to find a thorough blonde, and a charming one! This Syrian belle had those clear and sweet gray eyes which one is most apt to look for in a certain species of Irish beauty, only, instead of being vivacious and frolicsome, they were full of gentle and pensive dignity. The profile was not aquiline, but straight and Grecian. The whole expression was refined, gracious, and thoroughly lady-like. It was not merely a handsome face; it was also a very attractive one.

The lady had on the usual raiment and finery of wealthy Beirutees. Her golden-brown hair, braided in many little strands, was almost hidden by a network of gold coins, weighing a pound or more, which glistened down to her shoulders. On her head, worn jauntily to one side, was the universal crimson tarboosh, swinging its long silken tassel. Her short robe and loose trousers were of heavy silk stuffs, striped in gay colors. Her curiously little bare feet were in pointed slippers of yellow morocco. Yet in spite of the barbaric pomp of her attire, she was a lovely and interesting young woman. It was hard to understand how she could have acquired, amid the ignorance and restrictions of Syrian female life, that bewitching expression of intelligence and sensibility.

Against her knees leaned a child, a shy and willful-looking girl of five or six, also costumed in silk and bedizened with gold.

“ This is a lady of the Beit Keneasy, or House of Keneasy, or Church family,” said Mrs. Kirkwood. “ It is a rich mercantile family, and very respectable in every way.”

Then she said a few words in Arabic by way of introducing her dark-eyed countrywoman to the Syrian blonde. A few civilities, such as pass between people of diverse tongues, were translated to and fro. The Arab lady’s voice was a sweet soprano, at least as pleasant as Irene’s mellow contralto. It was a very pretty dialogue to hear, even though one understood but half of it.

“ I want to look at her head-dress,” said Irene. And Mrs. Kirkwood turned the request into Arabic.

The lady of the House of Keneasy smiled, and gracefully bowed her gilded and tasseled head.

“ What a lovely white neck!” whispered Irene, as she studied the net-work of golden circlets. “ This is the blood of the crusaders.”

“ Older than the crusaders,” said Mr. Payson, who had just entered the room. “ The Semitic race was, I verily believe, a white race of old. The Egyptian monuments paint the Rotennu — as they call the Aramean peoples — with blue eyes and yellow hair. I hold that the tribes of Shem, before they descended into the plain of Shinar, and for centuries afterward too, were fairskinned mountaineers. You will find more golden heads and blue eyes when you get on Lebanon, Irene. Nearly all the men of this Beit Keneasy are light, and two or three of them have sandy beards, like Scotchmen. But it is not crusader blood.”

Irene turned to the child and kissed its apricot cheek. The coy little Oriental shrank back and hid her face against the maternal shoulder. The Syrian mother bent slightly over her shy cherub, and then looked up with a smile of angelic sweetness.

“ Tell her,” said Irene, “ that I should love to see her often.”

“ She asks you to call on her,” replied Mrs. Kirkwood. “ She says your coming will fill her house with blessings.”

Irene returned the most florid thanks which the imagination and conscience of an American clergyman’s daughter permitted. Then the Lady Mariam, of the House of Keneasy, arose, and with many final compliments took her tinkling departure.

“ I hope you have no more beauties to show me,” said Irene. “ My mind is getting worldly.”

“ Just one more,” laughed Amy Kirkwood. “ Mirta is in the leewan waiting to see Miss Grant.”

“ Mirta is one of our own girls,” explained Mrs. Kirkwood, as they turned into the hall. “ She is of a poor Beirut family, but reared and educated in our house. She is married to one of the best and ablest of our Protestants, a man of high character and scholarship. Her appearance is very striking. You will think of Cleopatra or Queen Esther.”

In the broad light of the comandaloon Irene found still another Syrian who was indisputably handsomer than herself. Although Mirta Saboonie was scarcely of middle height, her aspect was nothing less than that of a sultana. Like the generality of Syrian women, she was slender and supple of person and very graceful in carriage; and her costume set forth the pliable beauty of her figure, as well as the regal beauty of her face, in a manner which was almost startling.

Around her tarbooshed head and crossing over her breast was a cloud of white, gauzy drapery, contrasting vividly with the rich brunette of her complexion. A dark, figured shawl, twisted loosely into a girdle, just hung upon her hips, and called attention to the delicacy of her waist. The skirt of her closefitting dress hung low, in a fashion devised by the mission ladies for their scholars, concealing the Eastern shintyan, or trousers, and barely exposing the pointed yellow slippers. The sleeves of the dress fitted to the arm and were fastened about the wrist with a row of silken loops and buttons, while a pointed scallop, edged with braid, reached nearly to the knuckles. The coquettish jacket of blue broadcloth had scallopings of blue braid down the front, and a low standing collar stiff with gold embroidery. The body of it was short enough to show Mirta’s slender waist, and its sleeves stopped at the elbow so as not to hide the braiding of the undersleeves. The whole costume was a very pretty missionary compromise between the fashions of Orient and Occident.

Mirta’s face was of the purest Syrian type, slightly aquiline, like that of a model Jewess, and yet distinctly not Hebraic. Its color was very much that of a handsome brunette from Louisiana or Cuba, and it was enriched to real magnificence by a glow which reminded one of crimson roses. Her hair was nearly black, and hung in ripples along a low forehead, while long black lashes shaded her brilliant, tranquil hazel eyes.

But the chief beauty of this Syrian houri lay in her noble, her really queenly, her almost tragic, expression. Whoever has seen the great Rachel in the part of an empress has seen a face and air worthy to be compared with Mirta’s. You would have supposed that only the most patrician thoughts and the grandest emotions were known to her. You would have guessed that she had suffered and triumphed over some majestic anguish worthy of a Rizpah or a Vashti. She seemed an incarnation of the sorrowing and yet imperially beautiful Orient.

“ I am very happy to welcome the lady to Beirut,” said this sultana, extending her hand in European style and speaking in English. Her utterance had not a trace of foreign accent, barring a somewhat marked deliberation, and even that seemed but an expression of Eastern repose, or of natural dreaminess of temperament.

“ And I am truly happy to see your beautiful country,” returned the young missionary. “I mean to remain in it many years, and perhaps all my life.”

“ Oh, you like Syria!” smiled Mirta, flushing with pleasure. “ It is very kind of you to tell us so. We are a poor people now, but we are proud of our country. We know that we were once a great people. You will find that the Syrians are very vain.”

“ I like the country and the people,” declared Irene. “ They surprise me exceedingly. I did n’t expect to find such sweet manners.”

“ Oh, you thought us savages,” laughed Mirta, in a mellow, purring tone, for her voice was a contralto. “ Mr. Kirkwood says that the Americans suppose we are all Bed a ween, living in tents and caves and ruins. I used to believe that he meant it as a joke, or to make us humble. But perhaps it is so.”

“I don’t know precisely what we think. We think a good deal of ourselves, and not much of others.”

“ It is the custom of every country, I presume,” moralized Mirta. “ But I must not forget to tell you that my husband sends you his salaams, and will call upon you this evening.”

Irene expressed her thanks, and Mrs. Kirkwood added, “Why didn’t you bring your little Lulu? ”

“ She is so little, and she is cross with teething,” said Mirta, just as an American mother might have said it.

There was more feminine talk, all curiously domestic and commonplace, that is when compared with Mirta’s queenliness; and when the visitor went her way, Irene had a disappointing sense that some romance, or tragedy even, had been concealed from her.

“What is she?” she demanded. “ What has happened to her? What does that face mean? ”

“ Nothing has happened to her,” replied Mrs. Kirkwood. “ She has been quietly brought up with us, and has married a good, wise man, and makes him a good wife. I don’t know how she came by that expression. My husband calls her a type of the race. He says she represents what this people would be, if it should ever recover its ancient soul.”

“ I wish I could paint her as an emblem of Syria,” said Irene. “ Why don’t I know how to paint? How few accomplishments we have in America! ”

At this moment a man of twenty six or eight entered brusquely, and was introduced as Doctor Macklin, the physician of the station. Irene received him with that slight reserve and interior embarrassment which a young lady often accords to a young man who is known to her by repute as a bachelor. The doctor had a shy and constrained air, also, for there was much modesty under his brusqueness.

“ Welcome to Syria,” he said loudly. “ I hope that your life among us will be a pleasant one. We will do our best.”

Then, as if he had done his best, or rather as if he found it easiest to talk to an old acquaintance, he turned to Mrs. Kirkwood.

“I had a hot ride from Abeih,” he went on, pointing to his face, which was of a flame color. “ I was goose enough to wear a tarboosh, and I shall be in misery for a week. My epidermis was n’t made for a missionary.”

“You are always doing something wrong and getting punished for it,” said Mrs. Kirkwood in a motherly tone of reproof. “ How is your ague? ”

“ Bad. I took ten grains of quinine before starting this morning. I saw the steamer out at sea, and I wanted to welcome the Payson family. The shakes are nothing. I learned all about them in Aleppo.”

“You should n’t have come down,” said the good lady. “ You are so reckless!”

He looked reckless, even to his costume. He had on Frank clothing, such as one buys ready-made in Beirut, with a crimson tarboosh over his long brown hair, and a large silken girdle around his waist. His face was kindly, but his dark-blue eyes had a strongly masculine and almost combative expression, and his manner was abrupt, a little noisy, and, in short, utterly unconventional.

Irene contrasted him in thought with the gentle and polished De Vries, and could not help saying to herself that she should not like the doctor.


Let us see how the gentle and polished DeVries was occupying himself during his separation from Miss Grant and the Paysons.

When he left them on the steamer his feeling was that he had been turned out of a sort of Eden into a barren and rather wicked world, and that the expulsion, while it was undoubtedly a liberation from strong influences, was nevertheless a depressing and saddening circumstance. On the way to the hotel, merely to alleviate his melancholy, he sought conversation with a stout, highcolored young American whom he had noted on the steamer, but to whom he had not hitherto spoken. The result of the interview was that they took adjoining rooms and ordered a breakfast together.

“ Coffee first, Antonio,”suggested Mr. Fred Wingate, the new acquaintance, in the cheerful tone of a good liver. “ Then the best fruit you have, with your best white wine. Then a couple of courses of meat and vegetables. Lastly chibouks and nargilehs.”

“ Very good,” said DeVries. “I don’t mind a déjeûner à la fourchette, though I was only thinking of bread and fruit and coffee.”

“ You have been in ascetic company, lately,” smiled Wingate. “ I never afflict myself with anchorites, and seldom go to the joss-house. A fellow might like to flirt with that young lady, though. Was she susceptible? ”

“ No,” replied DeVries, gravely, and Mr. Wingate perceived that he had given annoyance, and changed the subject. “ I believe that there are only two things to do in Syria. You go to Jerusalem, and then you go to Damascus, Baalbec, and Palmyra.”

DeVries came near mentioning his project of excavating in ancient Philistia. But he checked himself; there was a possibility that this Wingate might be the sort of fellow to jump another man’s claim, — might dig up all the Philistines himself, and so carry off the glory of proving that they were, or were not, Pelasgians.

“ There are objects of interest everywhere,” he said, with the comfortable feeling of a man who can give information. “ You can’t get far away from antiquities. The north of Syria is full of ruined cities.”

“ Anything in Beirut, or near it? ”

“ Not much, except a few fragments in the city and some Roman cisterns on the cape.”

Then it was agreed that, after their déjeûner à la fourchette, they should take horse and ride to the. Roman cisterns.

Just as breakfast appeared the American consul was announced, and of course was admitted. He proved to be a tall, hard-featured, butternut-bearded gentleman of near forty, newly appointed to the station, speaking no language but his own powerful English, and half starved in soul for American company. Mr. Wingate, a jovial youth of social temperament and hospitable habits, promptly had him seated at table.

“ I assure you, gentlemen, this is a very delightful occasion to me,” said the consul, with an air of really pathetic gratitude. " I have breakfasted, but I am glad to remain. You can’t imagine, gentlemen, how much I love to see my countrymen, and bow confoundedly tired I am of this out-of-the-way district.”

DeVries, to whom any land full of ruins was fascinating, thought what a shame it was that such a dunce should be there. However, he was just as polite to Mr. Porter Brassey, of West Wolverine, as though he sympathized with his tastes and held his intellect in high respect. Mr. Fred Wingate, who was equally a man of the world, bent his dimpled smile upon this fervent American, and made haste to turn him inside out, evidently with the purpose of telling about him afterward.

The breakfast was an exceedingly hilarious one. Before they had done with all the sauterne which Wingate ordered, they were at a height of spirits which would have cast a gloom over a teetotaler. Even the castaway official, as he drew back from the table and accepted a chibouk, seemed to feel that the venerable East might be made almost as pleasant as the abode of the setting sun.

“You see a man need n’t die of a broken heart, even if he is afar from West Wolverine,” said Wingate, with that jolly smile of his which would pacify a cavalryman.

“ That’s so,” returned the comforted consul, quite willing to be laughed at for his homesickness, so long as his dear countrymen would let him stay with them. “ I assure you, gentlemen, that I have had a most delightful morning. I never shall forget it. And I ’ve learned a new trick, — a trick worth remembering. This is the first time in my life, gentlemen, that I ever saw wine for breakfast. I tell you it won’t be the last, if this consulate understands itself, — and it thinks it does.”

“ Wingate,” said DeVries (they were quite intimate by this time), “ we shall find this position vacant when we get back here.”

The functionary laughed as loud as the others, and indeed several times louder.

“ No, no, DeVries,” he haw-hawed. “You’re out of your reckoning there. I can stand a power of drink. If I could n’t, I should n’t be here. It takes a pile of whisky to get atop of politics up our way. Hullo, my shebang is out,” he added, referring to his chibouk. “ Here boy, give us a match,” addressing the Italian waiter in English. “A match—lucifer—locofoco,” he insisted, making a sign of drawing one on his pantaloons.

Either the gesture or the polysyllable “ foco,” so like to the word “fuoco,” illuminated the Tuscan, and he brought a coal of fire for the official pipe.

“I can’t get a grip on the lingo,” proceeded our representative, referring to the Arabic language with its hundred thousand words, or possibly to all languages whatever outside of English. “ Hands slip every time I catch hold. It leaves me rather mum here, except when a traveler from the land of freedom happens along, or I run up to jaw with the missionaries. But a man can have too much missionary, as the New Zealand chieftain said. They ’re good fellows, — real good - hearted, honest, white men; by George, I respect ’em. But an ordinary man of the world don’t want missionary in his’n all the time. Let me tell you what happened when I was breakfasting, quite in the family way, with one of ’em. He’s a good man and a learned man, — as smart in spiritual things and scholarship as a steel trap, — but rather stiff and devout in his manners. Well, this man, — his name is Pelton, the Reverend Pelton, — as I was sitting at his hospitable board and assailing his chicken fixings, he whips out a little book, a kind of pocket volume of Scripture Promises, and reads a text aloud. I did n’t quite understand, — thought it was one of his own remarks; and so says I, ‘ What ? ’ Well, gentlemen, that man was n’t flabbergasted a particle; he just read the promise right over again from top to bottom. I tell you, gentlemen, it did n’t seem to have any comfort for me. I think I never was so upset and rolled in the mud, before or since.”

DeVries, who was no longer the serious creature known to us heretofore, laughed as heartily as the convivial Wingate over Mr. Brassey’s misadventure.

“ It’s a way they have among themselves, I expect,” continued the consul. “ Or perhaps they hankered to do me a good turn. But it’s embarrassing to have a text touched off under your nose in that way, when you ain’t looking. I respect the missionaries very much, and want to see ’em —once in a while.”

“ Fuoco, Antonio, se vi piace,” said DeVries, whose nargileh needed a fresh coal.

“ Do you know his language? ” asked our representative with respect.

“ I speak a pretty fair foreign Italian. Lingua toscana in bocea americana.”

Mr. Brassey sighed. He felt keenly, as he had never formerly imagined that he could feel, the inconvenience and humiliation of his linguistic ignorance.

“ There ought to be a seminary for our foreign civil service,” he declared. “ It’s a ridiculous shame to see the representatives of a great country walking around as mum as so many deaf and dumb idiots. You can’t much wonder, gentlemen, that I sometimes wish I was back in West Wolverine.”

“ Consul, do you keep a horse? ” asked Wingate.

“ Yes, two of ’em, — pretty fair Ayrabs, as common Ayrabs go. Got a mounted dragoman, too, — or dragoon. I can let you have the whole outfit.”

Suppose we take a ride to the antiquities.”

There ain’t nothing of the sort in the neighborhood,” declared the consul.

”I beg your pardon,” said DeVries, There are the Roman cisterns at the lias el Beirut.”

What’s the Wrastle Beirut? ”

I mean the head of the cape.”

Oh, all right,” returned Mr. Brassey. “I don’t mind taking a skitter over there.”

So the official outfit was sent for, and steeds were ordered for Wingate and DeVries, and the trio set off for Ras el Beirut, guided by the consular kawàss.

They had a spirited, and in fact a downright furious gallop over the sand and rocks of the desolate cape. DeVries jumped into the largest cistern, measured it carefully with his tape-yard, calculated the cubic capacity, and put all in his note-book.

“As a spectacle, I consider it a failure,” said Mr. Brassey, staring thoughtfully into the coarse excavation. " It’s not up to what I expected of the Romans. Why, we could beat it all hollow in West Wolverine, if we only had the rock.”

The cape thoroughly investigated, DeVries and the kawáss had a break-neck race along a rock-strewn sea-beach, while the consul whooped like the Last of the Mohicans and bet a good many piastres on the result with Wingate.

“ I thought I should win.” said DeVries, when he got in first on the home stretch. “ I knew this horse had the right kind of hind legs to him. Sorry I beat you out of your money, Mr. Brassey.”

“By George! it serves me right for laying against my own countryman,” declared our patriotic functionary. " You can give me my little revenge, gentlemen, in our national game of poker.”

So, on their return to the hotel, they played not a little poker, and Mr. Brassey pocketed a very handsome balance, as he called it.

“ To make all square, gents, I stand the dinner,” proclaimed this fair-minded gentleman. " Now, no objections, I beg and insist. I shall take it mighty hard if I ain’t allowed to stand the dinner.”

He was so nobly eager about it that the two young millionaires let him have his way, and the national game was followed by an excellent repast, with abundance of French and Oriental wine.

“Cyprus, Antonio,” the consul recommended, with a generous wave of his huge hand. “ Good, old, thick Cyprus wine. It’s the best counterfeit they’ve got on solid, intrinsic whisky,” he explained. “You shall have Borducks, too. But I don’t myself fancy the inky taste.”

“Whisky is all very well at home, Mr. Brassey,” said DeVries. “ But when a man is abroad, he should take to foreign drink. Otherwise, what does he learn ? ”

It will be perceived that our young gentleman, so delicate and almost spiritually gracious when he was with devout people, could entirely change his deportment, and apparently his sentiments, when he was among worldlings. Are we to suppose that he was a hypocrite, whether intentional or unintentional, who had played a demure game with the Paysons? Not at all. He bad been sedate in their company, because he sincerely respected their purity and piety, and was for the time colored in spirit by their companionship. The fact is that up to the present day we have had but an incomplete view of DeVries. It is much as if we had seen a landscape through green glasses, or examined a turbot only from his under side.

This rich and favored youngster had two faces, if not many more than two faces, to his character. He had a nature which reflected the serious education of his childhood, and another which consorted with the freedom of his life in college and in Europe. When he met a sainthood like that of Payson, or a maidenhood like that of Irene Grant, he behaved, and almost felt, as if he had never quitted his mother’s fireside. But when he fell in with a wine - colored Wingate or a poker-playing Porter Brassey, he was easily and comfortably one of them. A very weak character, the men of regular habits and strict principles will say; and the young man himself sometimes remorsefully held the same opinion of it. Well, perhaps so, and perhaps not. Whether a nature is weak because it has various sides, because it is capable of vigorous movement in more directions than one, is surely a question open to argument. At all events, the trait is common enough, and more so in real life than in romance.

They had a fine dinner; at least, they all said so. There were a dozen courses, between European and Syrian. And there were more bottles of Bordeaux and Cyprus than I choose to mention. After dinner came further poker, for the two rich, good-natured youngsters were sorry for the bestranded politician, and did not care how much they spent in gilding his homesick existence. At last, when he had pocketed a thousand piastres ($45) and felt that it would be wrong to win any more, he himself closed the game.

“ Young men, go West,” he said, with a smile. “ When you have graduated in West Wolverine, I shall feel it right to play with you. Excuse me for seeming to brag on poker. I am not proud, but ashamed.”

Wingate, who could have gambled the consul out of his wardrobe, flung a sly smile at DeVries and pushed aside the cards.

“What can I do for you, gents?” demanded Mr. Brassey, rising to depart. “ Don’t you want my dragoon to bully somebody? Let me help you about your outfits. Borrow my horses, and make me happy.”

Wingate replied, with thanks, that he had already engaged a traveling outfit; and DeVries explained that he was to make a brief sojourn with the missionary Payson.

“ The dickens! ” stared Mr. Brassey. “ You ’re a queer fish for the Pool of Siloam. However, I ’ll come up and have a jaw with you, and we 'll read the promises together. Good-by, Wingate. You make me sick to be home again, where they raise such men. Good night and good luck to you both.”

Then Mr. Wingate, who was a very polished wine-bibber, begged DeVries to excuse him for setting about his preparations for the morning’s start. Thus left to himself, our hopeful young Janus remembered his missionary friends, and decided to make an evening call on Miss Grant.


Towards the close of Irene’s first day in Syria, she began to wonder whether Mr. DeVries would come to see her, either that evening or ever. The query and the frequency with which it returned upon her caused her some humiliation and compunction. How absurd and wrong in a poor minister’s daughter to long thus for the entertainments of earth, and to have so little power of self-absorption in the work of missions, even here on mission ground! How smallminded to think and think of one “ darkling man,” when a sunset of purple and rose and gold sat enthroned upon Lebanon !

What did it mean? Did she “ care for ” this lovely young man with great possessions? She hoped not; it would be both wrong and silly; it would be perilous to piety and peace. It must be that she was homesick; that she thought of him so much because he was a part of her home, because he was to return to her country, and she not. In truth, homesick she was; how could she well help it? At last she was really in Syria, and the whole question of coining was settled, and the question of staying, also. Her gloom of spirit was manifold and profound, and not to be dispelled by a sunset on Mount Lebanon. A sunset on the rail fences and whortleberry bushes of a Connecticut hill-side would have been more effective.

She tried to “ lean upon ” Mr. Payson, as she phrased it in her interior language, the speech of Bible-classes. Indeed, she did find soothing, as well as support and guidance, in the presence of that cheerful and sympathetic sanctity. At tea, when he took out ids well-worn little volume of Promises, and read two or three such texts as he thought would profitably direct the family conversation, she was not confounded, as the consul had been at the Pelton table, but sustained and comforted.

“ I am a poor, tottering pilgrim,” he said apologetically, as he pocketed the book. “ My life has been an incessant struggle to remember the unseen world, — the only world of any note to a sane person. Every means and appliance has to be used, or I am lost. I sometimes doubt whether there ever was another man with such a bent toward worldliness. The idea of death, for instance,— the idea of being withdrawn from this small and perilous earth, — has always been peculiarly dreadful to me, and is so still. Ah dear, if I had been with Peter to the hall of Pilate, I should have denied the Master with him! It is an immense mercy to me that my soul was not called to run its earthly career in the ages of the martyrs.”

“ Mr. Payson, I don’t believe you are fearful,” replied Mrs. Kirkwood. “ You saved several persons in that dreadful collision on the Mississippi. We read it in the New York Herald.”

“Ah, yes, I was wonderfully helped on that occasion,” said Payson. “It seemed to me that I had the strength of ten men when I saw those poor, shrieking people hanging on the verge of an eternity for which they were perhaps not prepared; but it was not my strength; it was mercifully lent to me.”

Irene had never before heard of that scene of peril and rescue, although she had been traveling for months with the hero of it. She was greatly moved by this humility and bravery, and longed at once to do something useful to her kind. ” How soon can I get to work? ” she asked. “ You will have to find me a teacher. I ought to learn Arabic in the next six months.”

The Kirkwoods smiled to each other over a burst of zeal and hope which they had seen before in novices.

“ Yes, Irene must have a teacher at once,” assented Mr. Payson. " She must be allowed to see what she can do, and what she is fitted for. It is not every one, to be sure, who can master this most difficult language, and become acceptable in it. But she may be, and I think she is, one of those who have the gift of tongues. She shall begin Arabic to-morrow morning, even though she should go but a little way in it, and eventually occupy herself mainly with teaching in English.”

Is it so difficult, then ? ’ ’ said Irene. “ I want to master it. However, if I can’t, I ’ll teach English.”

Then they had to hurry their tea a little in order that the men of the party might go to the great saloon and receive three influential Druses from Mount Lebanon.

“ Can I see them? ” asked Irene, who was fervently interested in everything Syrian.

Mrs. Kirkwood led her to the long reception-room, and they sat down at one end of the mukaad, or cushioned sofa, where they could watch the mountaineers without seeming to court their acquaintance. They were dark, blackeyed, upright men, singularly dignified and grave in aspect, looking all the more severe and ascetic because of their huge, white turbans and cloaks of black and white stripes, so unlike the usual florid raimeut of the Orient. One of them seemed to be eighty years of age, and had a truly patriarchal expression of command, enhanced by a long, wavy beard of silver.

“That is a famous sheikh, or holy elder,” whispered Mrs. Kirkwood. “He is one of the chiefs of the Okkaal, or Enlightened. There must be something important stirring, or he would not be here.”

“What are they saying? Do tell me,” begged Irene.

“They are saying that they and the English are brothers; that they have the same religion with us; that they want to learn it more perfectly,—want us to send them teachers. The man with the long knife in his girdle says they are all determined to become Protestants.”

“ Oh, is n’t it wonderful! ” murmured the novice. “To think that I should get here to see this! ’ ’

A serious smile came over the sallow and patient face of the elder lady. “ My dear, there is n’t a word of truth in it, I am afraid,” she responded. “ The Druses are always of the religion of the company they are in. If we were Catholics, they would speak the same things. They are commanded in their Scriptures to conceal their belief. The door is closed, they say, and nobody can become a Druse, and so it is useless to preach, as well as dangerous. I would n’t attach any importance to the talk of these men, only that I don’t understand why they should come down from their mountains to utter it, apparently for no other purpose. And the old sheikh, too! I can’t help suspecting that there is something important at hand.”

Just here the discourse of the Druse spokesman, the white-bearded Okkaal, descended to a guttural murmur, and Mrs. Kirkwood could overhear no more.

“ Perhaps they are in earnest this time,” hoped Irene. “They seem so very serious.”

It was at this moment that Hubertsen DeVries dropped in upon the valued friends who had been so much out of his mind during the day. Our youthful missionary rose to greet him with a blush which indicated that he could at least make her forget all about the conversion of the Druses.

“ I am so glad to see you! ” she confessed impulsively. “ Why, it seems to me as if I had been here a year, and you were a friend just arrived from home. And yet,” she laughed, “ I did n’t know you at home.”

It occurred to DeVries that if they had known each other at home, she might not have been here, at least as a missionary. For the moment he was all back again to the content which during three days he had found in her company. To him, as well as to her, it appeared that they were old friends, such as fate could not easily disunite. He was almost equally glad to see Mr. Payson, and the two met with the effusion of womankind.

“My dear young friend,” exclaimed the clergyman, “ I am rejoiced by your coming! I have had a foolish fear today that you might get into trouble during your explorations.”

“ I got into nothing worse than a cistern,” replied DeVries, with a slightly guilty recollection of poker and Cyprus wine.

“ Sit down and talk with our sisters,” said Payson. “ I have some important business with these mountaineers. I will join you in a few minutes.”

Then DeVries listened a long time to Irene’s enthusiastic account of the wonders of the day: the courteous and attractive manners of the Syrians; the blonde graces of the lady of the Beit Keneasy; and the tragic queenliness of Mirta.

“ I wish I had been with you,” he said, remembering with some disgust the rustic, gambling consul, and that polished roisterer, Wingate.

“ Oh, but you shall see it all,” she promised, of course not understanding him, and unable to imagine that he had been on a frolic. “ We will have Mirta to dinner before you go. And I can take him to the Beit Keneasy, Mrs. Kirkwood, can’t I? There, I said Beit Keneasy properly, did n’t I? It is almost my first Arabic. Mr. DeVries, I am going to learn the whole language, or at least going to try.”

“ I don’t imagine that you will find much difficulty in getting a fair reading and talking knowledge of it,” said DeVries, one of those happy linguistic souls who can pick up a smattering of a strange tongue in six months, or so.

“ Ah, but I want to master it.”

“ I am afraid you won’t. The French is a very simple, lucid language, but how few foreigners really master it! It is n’t an easy matter to master one’s mother tongue.”

“ Oh, dear! I know it. How you discourage me! It will end in teaching English and caring for woman’s matters, perhaps. It seems so feeble to come four thousand miles to do what I did in America. ”

Mrs. Kirkwood laughed good-naturedly. The girl was sketching her own history, but she was not annoyed by the picture. She had learned long since to be contented with the humble and monotonous round of the domestic threshing-floor.

At this moment, the three Druses arose, murmured a deep-toned salutation, and stalked gravely out of the room, with an air of ill-concealed displeasure. Kirkwood and Payson attended them courteously to the door, and then turned, with serious faces, to join in entertaining DeVries.

“ What is the matter?” Mrs. Kirkwood presently asked her husband, speaking, however, in Arabic. " What is the sheikh of the Okkaal here for? ”

“ There is going to be trouble in Lebanon,” he answered in English. " It is no secret now, and we can talk of it.”

“ The slayer is to run to and fro in that goodly mountain, and all its high places are to be stained with blood,” echoed Payson.

He was really pale and tremulous with anxiety and sorrow. His face was naturally a very manly one, and all the more noble because of a habitual expression of ascetic sweetness, the result of many an hour of spiritual conflict and many a victory over himself. It was quite pathetic to see this far-away gaze so clouded, and this martyr-like serenity so shaken.

“ Those men were deputies from the great Druse house of Abd el Melek,” continued Kirkwood. " They came to say that the Maronites are going to rise, and that the Druses will shortly be fighting for their lives. The Abunekeds and Jemblots are ready for war, but the Abd el Meleks desire peace. This is their story, — perhaps true, perhaps not. These envoys wanted us to beg the English consul (you know they consider us as English) to provide them with money and arms. We had to tell them that all that sort of thing was beyond our power. They did n’t believe us, and went off in a grim humor. I trust, however, that they will come to reason, and won’t trouble our outlying missions. ”

“ The results of the painful work of many years will be brushed away like a few drops of dew,” sighed Payson.

“ Brother, you are always looking at the Egyptian chariots,” smiled Kirkwood, cheeringly. “ Israel will get safe across.”

“ At all events, nothing can happen but the will of the Master of earth,” bowed Payson. " And how much better he knows what is best for his world and his church than a poor, short-sighted creature like me! But I shall go to Hasbeya. I must be among our people when their hour of trial comes.”

“ And take your ladies with you?” stared DeVries, anxious for Miss Grant, we may suppose, rather than for Mrs. Payson.

“ No, no. They will stay here.”

“ And how will your wife like that? ” asked Mrs. Kirkwood.

“ Ah dear! I don’t know. I trust that she will like what is right.”

“ Well, you need n’t pack your saddle-bags to-night,” observed Kirkwood.

“ Even according to the Druse story the Maronites are not to break out for eight days, which may mean eight weeks, or eight months.”

“ I shall stay on here a while,” said DeVries. “ I should like to see some Oriental fighting.”

The two clergymen looked pained, and Mrs. Kirkwood horrified. Even Irene turned upon him a glance of amazement, like one who has got new light upon a familiar character, and light of a startling nature.

“ Ah, you don’t know war,” answered Payson, in a tone of apology rather than of reproof. “ You are thinking of the combat, and not of the vanquished. A mountain massacre is a fearful thing.”

“ I must seem rather brutal to you,” said this surely considerate and civil youngster. “ Excuse me for being so thoughtless.”

“ I can understand you,” returned Payson. “ Our Anglo-Saxon race loves to fight. It has been fighting ever since it came out of its German forests, and probably for long before. The gates of its temple of Janus are never shut except when the wind of Providence blows them to.”

DeVries was not troubled, but Irene supposed that he must be, and wanted to relieve him from this conversation.

“ Let me take you up to the terrace,” she said. “ I want to show you the lights of the city and of the villages on the mountain.”

As the two young people stepped out of the saloon they met Dr. Macklin, and the traveler was presented to him. There were a few words of embarrassed, insignificant conversation, and then Irene rustled away with DeVries to the secluded, sombre housetop.

“ Who is that dandy?” demanded the doctor, in a very glum tone, when he entered the parlor.

Mr. Payson told what he knew of DeVries, and of his excellent parentage.

“ I don’t like him at all,” said Macklin. “I wonder our young lady should go off alone with him.”

“She asked you to go,” observed Mrs. Kirkwood, gently. “ Why did n’t you ?”

“I didn’t like him,” explained the doctor, savagely. " I did n’t want to be with him.”