Personal Narrative Of A Pilgrimage To Al-Madinah & Meccah - Volume 1 of 2 - By Captain Sir Richard F. Burton

 -  The only
society we found, excepting an occasional visitor, was that of a party
of Egyptian women, who with their - Page 230
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The Only Society We Found, Excepting An Occasional Visitor, Was That Of A Party Of Egyptian Women, Who With Their Husbands And Families Occupied Some Rooms Adjoining Ours.

At first they were fierce, and used bad language, when the boy Mohammed and I,-whilst Omar Effendi was engaged in prayer, and the rest were wandering about the town,-ventured to linger in the cool passage, where they congregated, or to address a facetious phrase to them.

But hearing that I was a Hakim-bashi-for fame had promoted me to the rank of a "Physician General" at Suez-all discovered some ailments. They began prudently with requesting me to display the effects of my drugs by dosing myself, but they ended submissively by swallowing the nauseous compounds. To this succeeded a primitive form of flirtation, which mainly consisted of the demand direct. The most charming of the party was one Fattumah[FN#18], a plump-personed dame, fast verging upon her thirtieth year, fond of a little flattery, and possessing, like all her people, a most voluble tongue. The refrain of every conversation was "Marry me, O Fattumah! O daughter! O female pilgrim!" In vain the lady would reply, with a coquettish movement of the sides, a toss of the head, and a flirting manipulation of her head-veil,

[p.175]"I am mated, O young man!"-it was agreed that she, being a person of polyandrous propensities, could support the weight of at least three matrimonial engagements. Sometimes the entrance of the male Fellahs[FN#19] interrupted these little discussions, but people of our respectability and nation were not to be imposed upon by such husbands. In their presence we only varied the style of conversation-inquiring the amount of "Mahr," or marriage settlement, deriding the cheapness of womanhood in Egypt, and requiring to be furnished on the spot with brides at the rate of ten shillings a head.[FN#20] More often the amiable Fattumah-the fair sex in this country, though passing frail, have the best tempers in the world-would laugh at our impertinences. Sometimes vexed by our imitating her Egyptian accent, mimicking her gestures, and depreciating her country-women,[FN#21] she would wax wroth, and order us to be gone, and stretch out her forefinger-a sign that she wished to put out our eyes, or adjure Allah to cut the hearts out of our bosoms.

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