[P.32]Paddy Birds, Pelicans, Giant Cranes, Kites And Wild Water-Fowl.
I had taken a third-class or deck-passage, whereby the evils of the
journey were exasperated.
A roasting sun pierced the canvas awning like
hot water through a gauze veil, and by night the cold dews fell raw and
thick as a Scotch mist. The cooking was abominable, and the dignity of
Darwaysh-hood did not allow me to sit at meat with Infidels or to eat
the food which they had polluted. So the Pilgrim squatted apart,
smoking perpetually, with occasional interruptions to say his prayers
and to tell his beads upon the mighty rosary; and he drank the muddy
water of the canal out of a leathern bucket, and he munched his bread
and garlic[FN#4] with a desperate sanctimoniousness.
The "Little Asthmatic" was densely crowded, and discipline not daring
to mark out particular places, the scene on board of her was motley
enough. There were two Indian officers, who naturally spoke to none but
each other, drank bad tea, and smoked their cigars exclusively
[p.33]like Britons. A troop of the Kurd Kawwas,[FN#5] escorting
treasure, was surrounded by a group of noisy Greeks; these men's gross
practical jokes sounding anything but pleasant to the solemn Moslems,
whose saddle-bags and furniture were at every moment in danger of being
defiled by abominable drinks and the ejected juices of tobacco. There
was one pretty woman on board, a Spanish girl, who looked strangely
misplaced-a rose in a field of thistles.
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