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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/125

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"Do you care if he did?" said I.

"Oh, certainly!" whispered the Kabir; "he is a man of wealth, and a prominent member of our mosque."

The Kabir's residence was a long wooden building at the end of a field, with several shade-trees, and some fifty acres of land, devoted to the cultivation of poison-berries.

"If you dislike the smell of fire-water, you had better accept the shelter of my roof," said he, "for all our caravansaries are redolent with the fumes of mash. As for myself, I never touch the stronger sorts, though our doctors prescribe them."

We thanked him for his kindness, but, as the night was clear and pleasant, we asked permission to camp under one of his shade-trees. While the Karman pitched our tent, our host pressed me to inspect the interior of the building.

"Do you know a remedy for the gout?"[1] he asked as soon as we were alone. "I have tried all sorts of cures, but unsuccessfully."

"Have you ever tried to drink water! "I asked him.

The Kabir sighed. "I thought you were a physician," said he; "is that the only remedy you know? Never mind," he added, when I made no reply, "I suppose there is no help for it. This earth is a vale of tears."

He had lighted a lamp, and I noticed that the background of his room was full of papyrus-rolls, tablets, and other things that bespoke him a man of letters.

"There is one consolation," said he; "the evils of this earth can not deprive us of spiritual enjoyments. Nay, the more the light of earthly pleasure fades, the brighter the joys of a higher world often dawn upon the mind."

A strange smell began to fill the room, and, looking toward the corner where the Kabir was seated upon his divan, I discovered to my dismay that he had lighted a pot with, stink-weeds. He invited me to take a seat at his side, but, seeing that I was in need of rest, he kindly permitted me to retire to my tent.

Before we resumed our journey the next morning, we had to replenish our provision-bags, and met a boy who offered to show us the way to the market-place. "It is not far from here," said he, "you can already hear the shouting of the doctors."

Since daybreak we had, indeed, heard the sound of repeated whoops, often accompanied by the tooting of a cow-horn; and when we arrived at the market-place we soon discovered the cause of the noise. In opposite corners of the square two medicine-venders had erected their platforms, and their incessant yells had already attracted large crowds of the natives. One of the doctors had decorated his booth with all sorts of fanciful pictures, and, while he exalted the

  1. Akdel heshad, the "wine-disease." Either the gout or the stone.