« ForrigeFortsett »
EXPLANATIONS OF ARABIC TERMS USED.
regiment. from Johor- Pearl. gate. a gold coin (of seven or eight shillings). auctioneer. hell. a striped hooded cloak. a circle of tents. from Tafilelt. barrack-caravanserai. Moorish plaid. heaven. a governor. bazaar. citadel. audience hall-durbar. possessed with a demon. holy beggar-friar. coral. patron saint of Fez. nightingale. a silver Spanish coin.
THE ARAB'S PLEDGE.
UR scene is in Marocco, and the reader will,
I trust, pardon details of dress and scenery
which may appear tedious, but are necessary in the delineation of the manners and customs of a people who, though so close at our doors, are so little known as the Moors, Jews, and Arabs of West Barbary.
The town of Marocco lies at the foot of the Atlas, which rises in grand, imposing masses to the eastward, piercing the sky with its snowy peaks. Around the town are extensive groves of date-palms, plantations of olives, gardens and orchards abounding with apricots, pomegranates, grapes, oranges, quinces, and jujubes, as well as flowers; which latter, however, are never cultivated with any care and grow almost wild. Beyond, extend the plains, varied by evergreen woods and tracts of cultivation, nearly to the sea-coast. These plains are barren during the greater part of the year, but after the periodical rains of spring, are
carpeted with grass and wild flowers; and afford pasture to herds of gazelles, which at that season forsake the vicinity of the rivers and bound joyously over their free expanse.
The Jews, whom this tale principally concerns, live among the fanatic Moors in a state of most abject degradation. They are compelled to wear a distinguishing dress with the indispensable badge of a black cap and shoes; they must take off their shoes and walk barefoot in passing before mosques, official residences, gates of towns, and in presence of any persons in authority; the wealthiest Jews may be loaded with abuse, and even struck by the lowest Moors without daring to retaliate or raise their hand in self-defence, the penalty for striking a Moslem being amputation of the hand. On the slightest pretext they are thrown into prison for the sake of their wealth, and then tortured to extort a heavy ransom for their deliverance.
But their greatest danger arises from the terms of the Mohammedan
in accordance with which if two witnesses swear that a Jew has repeated the words of their confession of faith, “I believe there is but one God, and Mohammed is the prophet of God,” his denial is worthless, as the evidence of Jews is not admitted against Moors : he is at once invested with a Moorish dress and forced to conform to Moslem rites, under peril, in case of refusal or recantation, of being burnt alive.
The gardens before mentioned are the resort of the towns-people, who come out to enjoy the coolness of