Travels In Arabia By  John Lewis Burckhardt

 -  I saw a Greek captain who obtained one for two hundred
dollars; he had commanded one of Mohammed Aly's dows - Page 108
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I Saw A Greek Captain Who Obtained One For Two Hundred Dollars; He Had Commanded One Of Mohammed Aly's Dows,

And was now on his way home; and he felt satisfied that, whatever ship he might hereafter take under his

Charge in the Archipelago, would be secured by this certificate from the pirates. In former times, this title of Khadem appears to have been of more importance than it is now; for I find, in the historians of Mekka, many great people mentioned, who annexed it to their names.

After the return of the Hadj from Muna, the principal street of Mekka becomes almost impassable from the crowds assembled there. The Syrian hadjy merchants hire shops, and make the best use of the short time which is granted to them for their commercial transactions. Every body purchases provisions for his journey home; and the pursuit of gain now engrosses all minds, from the highest to the lowest. The two caravans usually leave Mekka about the 23d of Zul Hadj, after ten days' stay in the town. Sometimes the leaders of them are prevailed upon by the merchants, who pay highly for the favour, to grant a respite of a few days; but this year they did not require it, as the caravan was detained by Mohammed Aly, who, preparing to open his campaign against the Wahabys, thought proper to employ about twelve thousand camels of the Syrian Hadj in two journies to Djidda, and one to Tayf, for the transport of provisions. As to the Egyptian caravan, which, as I have already mentioned, contained no private hadjys, it was wholly detained by Mohammed Aly, who ordered all

[p.286] the horsemen and camels that had accompanied it, to assist him in his campaign. The Mahmal, or sacred camel, was sent back by sea to Suez, a circumstance which had never before occurred. The Syrian caravan did not leave Mekka till the 29th of Zul Hadj; and the incessant labour to which its camels had been subjected, weakened them so much, that numbers of them died on their return through the Desert. The caravans of unloaded camels which were hourly leaving Mekka for Djidda, to take up provisions there, facilitated the short journey to that place of those hadjys who wished to return home by sea.

Having heard that the supply of money for which I had written to Cairo on my first reaching Djidda, had been received there, I rode over in the night of the 1st of December, and remained in that town six or seven days. The hadjys who had, in the mean while, daily flocked into it on their return from Mekka, were seen encamped in every quarter, and thus it soon became as crowded as Mekka had just been. Among the ships in the harbour, ready to take hadjy passengers on board, was a merchant-vessel lately arrived from Bombay, belonging to a Persian house at that presidency, and commanded by an English captain, who had beat up to Djidda against the trade-winds, at this late season. I passed many agreeable hours in the company of Captain Boag, on board his ship, and regretted that my pursuits should call me away so soon. Two other Europeans had arrived at Djidda about the same time, by way of Cairo; the one an Englishman, who was going to India; the other a German physician. This gentleman was a Hanoverian by birth, and a baron: misfortunes of a very distressing nature had driven him from his home, and he had thought of practising his profession at Djidda, or of proceeding to Mokha; but his mind was too unsettled to determine upon any thing; and he was of too independent a character to receive either counsel or assistance. I left him at Djidda when I returned to Mekka, and learnt afterwards that he died there in the month of March, of the plague, and that he was buried by the Greeks of Djidda upon an island in the harbour.

When I returned to Mekka, about the 8th or 9th of December, I found no longer the same multitudes of people; but the beggars had

[p.287] become so numerous and troublesome, that many of the hadjys preferred staying all day at home, to escape at once the importunities, the expense of acceding to them, or the scandal of wanting charity. These beggars were soliciting alms to carry them home; and their numbers were increased by many pilgrims of respectable appearance, whose money had been spent during the Hadj. It was my intention, in returning to Mekka, to join the Syrian caravan, and travel with it as far as Medina; I therefore, in imitation of some other Syrian pilgrims who had arrived at Mekka before the caravan, engaged with a Bedouin of the Harb tribe for two of his camels; although most of the hadjys, who, after the pilgrimage, visit Mohammed's tomb at Medina, accompany the Syrian caravan, agreeing with some Mekowem to defray all expenses on the road; but it is better, for many reasons, to travel with Bedouins than with towns-people, especially on a route across the Bedouin territory. An accident, however, prevented me from availing myself of this opportunity.

The caravan being ready for departure on the 15th of December, I packed up my effects in the morning, and at noon a gun was fired, to announce that Soleyman Pasha had quitted the plain of Sheikh Mahmoud, where the caravan had been encamped; but still my Bedouin had not arrived. I ran out towards Sheikh Mahmoud, when I understood that a rumour, whether false or true, having been spread, that Mohammed Aly was only waiting to see the camels all assembled in the morning upon the plain, that he might seize and send them to Tayf, several Bedouins had made their escape during the night: it was evident that those with whom I had bargained were among the number. In the hurry and bustle of departure no other camels could possibly be found; and I was therefore obliged to return to the town, together with several Mekkans, who had been disappointed in the same manner.

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