At Least So Said
The Visitors, And I Afterwards Found Out That They Were Not Far Wrong.
The Samman is a great family, in numbers as in dignity; from 8 A.M.
till mid-day therefore the Majlis was crowded with people, and
politeness delayed our breakfasts until an unconscionable hour.
To the plague of strangers succeeded that of children. No sooner did
the parlour become, comparatively speaking, vacant than they rushed in
en masse, treading upon our toes, making the noise of a nursery of
madlings, pulling to pieces everything they could lay their hands upon,
and using language that would have alarmed an old
man-o'war's-man.[FN#13] In fact, no one can conceive the plague but
[p.293] those who have studied the "enfan[t]s terribles" which India
sends home in cargoes.
One urchin, scarcely three years old, told me, because I objected to
his perching upon my wounded foot, that his father had a sword at home
with which he would cut my throat from ear to ear, suiting the action
to the word. By a few taunts, I made the little wretch furious with
rage; he shook his infant fist at me, and then opening his enormous
round black eyes to their utmost stretch, he looked at me, and licked
his knee with portentous meaning. Shaykh Hamid, happening to come in at
the moment, stood aghast at the doorway, chin in hand, to see the
Effendi subject to such indignity; and it was not without trouble that
I saved the offender from summary nursery discipline.
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