Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/126

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merits of his medicine, the mahudis[1] blew their horns, while two assistants ran to and fro distributing spoonfuls and handfuls of a blue powder and collecting copper coins. The doctor had the voice of a steer, and I noticed that his sudden whoops[2] sometimes opened the purse-strings of spectators who had listened with indifference to his quieter remarks.

His rival had no pictures, but talked with astonishing volubility and attracted customers by a very ingenious device. Behind his platform he had made an inclosure with chains and ropes and filled it with a troop of sickly-looking fellows—cripples, lepers, and such like—as he could easily have collected in any back street of the town. Now and then, in the course of his fluent harangue, the doctor would stop and turn toward this cadaverous assembly. "Have you not all derived great benefits from the use of my oil?" he inquired.

"Yes, yes, yes!" the lepers shouted in chorus, whereupon the mahud blew his horn, and the collectors rushed into the crowd to exchange bottles for coin. At times the doctor varied his query: "Is there any disease which my oil will fail to cure?"

"No, no, no!" yelled the chorus, and a shower of coin followed as before. At longer intervals a couple of assistants would bring a large tub from an adjoining building, and, with the appearance of a strenuous effort, lift it up and exchange it for an apparently empty pot upon the stage.

"Another barrelful sold!" then cried the doctor. "By Allah (whose perfection be extolled!), there is no medicine like it! Oh, the wonderful virtues of my oil! "whereupon the mahud blew his horn vigorously till coppers showered in from all sides.

Walking toward the gate, we overtook several men whom I remembered to have seen at the stand of the oil-man.

"What is that oil good for, O friend?" I asked a young fellow who carried a bottle of it in his hand.

He looked at me with surprise. "Did you not hear what the doctor said?" he replied; "it cures all diseases, so it can not fail to be good for something."

"Tell me, O my master," I asked an old burgher, "do you know what that bottle contains? "

"That I can not tell," said he; "but surely it must be a powerful medicine."

"And do you prefer it to the other doctor's powder?" I asked again.

"Judging from its taste, the potency of this oil can not be ex-

  1. Mahud (pl. mahudim, or mahudis), a town-crier, or news-crier. When Cordova was the capital of Moorish Spain, every market-hall of the vast city had two mahudis, who announced the news twice a day, like our morning and evening papers.
  2. "Sein plötzliches Gebrüll," (W.).