treat my steps again. In order to changed much since I saw it ten awaken a spirit of prayer for this years before and was closely watched great region, this account of my sec- as a British spy by the Turkish offiond visit is written. My first visit cer then in charge. The mud-brick to El Hofhoof, the capital of Hassa, castle, with its garrison of a score of was in October, 1893; it was a tour unkempt soldiers; the

the dilapidated of exploration, for missionary work custom-house, with its filth of accuwas then scarcely possible. Our col- mulated hospitality in the guestporteurs have been there twice since room; the waving crescent and star that date, in each case with great dif- on the crooked flagstaff; even the ficulty and persecution. In 1904 I

In 1904 I crowd of shouting boatmen and cammade a second visit, accompanied by el drivers and the curs crowding the Salome Antoon, a colporteur, and we causeway—all seemed very familiar.



remained nearly nine days in the The harbor, altho not deep enough capital.

for steamers, is protected against the The usual route from Bahrein to Gulf winds, and is therefore a good the interior is to cross over by boat landing-place for the immense quanto Ojeir, on the mainland, and thence tity of rice, piece-goods, and manufacto travel by camel-caravan to Hassa. tured articles which are transshipped We left by native boat-and that from Bahrein for the interior. We means very little comfort or privacy were very fortunate in finding a large —on November 28, and sailed south- caravan ready to leave. Sometimes ward around the larger island. Be- when the nomads have made the cause of head winds and a drenching roads unsafe, or there is no escort rain-storm, we did not reach Ojeir ready, the traveler has to wait a fortuntil the second day. It had not night for permission to start. Now,

the thirty boats in the harbor had un- Free Arabia with the inscription, loaded recently, and over two thou- “There is no god but Allah and Mosand camels were being loaded for hammed is God's apostle," such as the early start on the morrow. We you see in the picture. met old friends who had been to the In the hospitality of the tent we mission hospital at Bahrein, and there learned that our host, the army colowas not as much difficulty as we had nel, was by birth a Kurd from Aranticipated about passports and our menia, and his friendship was, thanks errand in Turkish territory. After a to God's good providence, the cause hasty meal of dried fish and rice, we of our freedom on arrival at Hofstruck a bargain with a camel driver hoof, and the key to our success in for two camels and were off. The meeting the people. Next morning camp for the night, according to we rode on. The country as far as

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

nomad custom, is only a short dis- Jisha is desert, with a few tamarisk tance beyond Ojeir, and when the shrubs and some desert-thorn. At caravan halted we were invited to the Subgha we halted for the night. tent of the commander of the Turk- Here there are wells of fairly fresh ish troops at Hassa. So utterly un- water, and brushwood for camp-fires. safe is all travel beyond the coast in At this season of the year it was Turkish Arabia that no one goes ex- bitterly cold for Arabia, and we cept in caravan and with soldier es- needed blankets, as we slept on a bed cort. Two hundred horsemen from of sand under the glorious stars. the Turkish cavalry in Hassa accom- We were called out after supper to panied the caravan, and they were see a merchant in the caravan, who continually on the lookout for nomad was dying from dysentery, and to minrobbers. Yet at our first night's en- ister to him. Medicine seemed of no campment some Bedouins stampeded avail, as the man had suffered for many twelve camels with their baggage and days; but he was very grateful to reescaped with the booty! The Turk- ceive a

cup of warm camel's milk ish officers carry their own flag, but with a stimulant, and listened eagerly the Arab guides had a banner of to the story of the Cross.

He re

The poor

The gove

peated a prayer after me, and, coming menian employed in the army. There from Bagdad, seemed to have heard were eight present—the total of nomthe Gospel previously.

inal Christians in the army staffman died the sanie night, and was and our message was from Matthew buried in the desert.

V:13, 14. On the following Sunday We left at daybreak, and were in no one was willing to risk attendance sight of the palm country at 9 o'clock for fear of persecution. We, too, Jisha is a walled village with perhaps were watched from the day of our two hundred houses. Salome left a arrival, and soon summoned to 'the copy of the Gospel with the Mullah. Turkish governor's palace to give an Jiffra is a much larger place in the account of our errand. midst of palms and with a weekly ernor said there was no demand for market. From here palms and gar

Christian books, and no need for our dens, with springs and streams of Gospel in a Moslem city. Salome refresh water, stretch all the way to the plied that the Gospel was for all capital.

men, Moslems, Jews, and Christians, It was interesting to note the char even for the heathen; and he spoke acter of the trade by studying the in such a fearless, straightforward cargo of the desert fleet. Over one way that he won respect of all preshalf of the camels carried piece- ent. Our books were inspected and goods for Nejd, and every bale was with some hesitancy declared "perplainly marked "Smith, Hogg & Co., mitted," as they were all printed by New York and Boston." There was permission of the censor in Syria. also Russian oil from Batoum, tim There was some difficulty and much ber from Zanzibar, charcoal from loud argument in regard to an Atlas Kerachi, and rice from Rangoon. among the educational books. Some How even in the far-off deserts of said the sultan had prohibited such Arabia the world grows smaller and like and others denied it. We solved the antipodes meet! Our baggage the question by presenting the doubthad Bibles from the Beirut Press ful book to the governor.

One of and medicines from London.

Dr. Worrall's old Busrah patients We arrived at Hofhoof on De was present, and his friendship won cember 2, and were most hospitably the battle; this is only one of many welcomed by the colonel in his large instances where medical missions house. It was still Ramadlian, the break down prejudice and exert a Moslem fast, so our principal meal wide influence for good. was at sunset; during the long day Every day we went to the bazaar we fasted from sheer politeness and of the town, and mingled freely necessity. About fifteen hundred sol

among the thousands of Arabs who diers are quartered in the capital to came to buy and sell. Long before defend it from the nomads, and we we were ready to return our small had the music of a brass band every stock of nearly one hundred portions morning and evening On the first of Arabic and Turkish Scriptures Sunday of our stay we held a Chris were sold out. Much of this had to tian service at the house of an Ar be done with caution to avoid the

fanatic element which is always Some had been in Hassa for over strong in an Arabian inland town. three years. Here are some human

On Sunday afternoon I went to the documents that tell their own story; military hospital, if the low, dark how many more are there who did tumble-down building can be called not open their hearts to us? by such a name.

The wards were — E— is a clerk in the army, in a filthy condition, and the twenty a man of intelligence, who subscribes odd patients not at all comfortable. to four Arabic and Turkish journals All were glad of a kind word; two (which sometimes reach him); he was of them could read, and gladly ac- keen to learn of Christian progress in cepted Gospels. Our most interesting India. Twice we spoke together

[graphic][merged small]

work was among the soldiers, and to about the hope of Israel and Ishmael, them the door of access seemed open and he finally expressed his belief because of their life of misery. They that Islam was waning in the world are all exiles from home, coming and in his heart. from Anatolia and Syria; they are A— is a captain in the army. For surrounded by temptations; paid only six years he has been seeking. First a pittance of wages at irregular inter- saw a Gospel in Mosul five years ago, vals; compelled to do duty as public and had the mind of a child. He is scavengers when not on parade; trying to lead his wife to Christ, and hated by the people and hating them; asked us "to try to persuade him mostly illiterate, and with no pro- that Jesus was the true prophet, so vision for amusement, except gam

that his wife might hear the argubling and tobacco. No wonder that ments from behind the curtain." She they all have a homesick countenance did not know he was already perand that desertions are frequent. suaded. He asked us to write out He pur

prayers for his daily use. He fears grammar, and for the rest, Moslem
detection and banishment or impris- traditions and theology.

chased an algebra and a Bible. He M—is the corporal of a company was full of apocryphal Gospel stories of gunners. He is keen for contro- and Moslem lore about Mohammed, versy, and invited us to

come at yet on a second interview promised night and meet a group of soldiers to read the Bible and search it. We in his quarters at the barracks, right marked some passages. under the large mosque of Ibrahim Our stay was too short for much Pasha. The whole round of objec- work among the Arab population.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small]

tions to Christianity was gone over, One day we mounted donkeys and and no offense was taken at my plain rode to Mubarrez, ten miles north of speech. When I called again the next the capital, along a palm-garden road day he asked me to pray for him. with many villages, and met a large He has many books written in Turk- company who listened to our mesish against the Bible. God grant he sage. There was greater interest and may find the Truth and the Life. less fanaticism than I had expected. J— is of the class of Moslem- Hassa

Hassa hospitality is extraordinary, Mullahs. He is the ignorant, learned even for Arabia. The host does everyteacher of the Turkish school at Hof- thing he can for the comfort of the hoof. His pupils are very few, as none guest until one feels ashamed of beof the orthodox Arabs will entrust ing a mere Occidental. their sons to a Turkish teacher. His There is no doubt that from Hoflibrary, of which he was so proud, was hoof as a base a great and effectual typical of Islam-erotic poetry, ab- door is ajar for inland Arabia, altho struse works on versification and there are still many adversaries. Our

« ForrigeFortsett »