Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/324

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STROLLING, this afternoon, down the street El-Akhdar, where silent Arab women, muffled up to the eyes, gliding noiselessly past, disappeared at my approach, to right and left, down darkling doorways in the narrow alley, I chanced to pass the Moorish shop of my friend the Hadji Omar-ben-Marabet, who, removing his pipe gravely from his mouth for a moment, beckoned me in with his hand to the court-yard of his house to bespeak my favorable inspection of his new stock of rustic, hand-made Kabyle pottery. I followed him through the corridor to the open oust, or central hall, and proceeded to look over his latest importations. The Hadji's wares were indeed pretty and curious enough, manufactured in quaint traditional shapes from the coarse yellow clay of the country by the deft-fingered women of the Djurjura Mountains. Two among them took my fancy especially. One was a flattened circular vase or bottle, with a short neck, and two handles at the side, covered with a pretty running arabesque pattern of the kind so common on the Morocco earthen-ware. The other was a quaint little red gourd-shaped vessel, with two bulges, constricted in the middle, exactly like the ordinary shepherd's gourd that one sees so often hanging from a countryman's girdle on the Roman Campagna or the Provençal hill-sides. After the usual chaffering and higgling of the market, conducted on both sides with unabated ardor for several minutes, my good friend Hadji Omar consented at last to accept for the pair—from me only, he called Allah to witness, as a particular customer—one third of the price he had at first demanded; and I walked off in triumph, at the end of our debate, with my two jars slung proudly in my hand, and my purse lighter by probably not much more than double the real value of my two little purchases. Now, at the wine-shop next door, where a Barbary Jew, in dark-blue turban, jacket, and sash, administers drink, in spite of the Prophet's veto, to thirsty humanity, all and sundry, be it Christian or Moslem, there hung at the lintel a whole string of gourds—the natural fruit, look you, not any spurious fictile imitation—which interested me strangely, because they happened to belong to two separate varieties, the originals and models, as chance would have it, of my two curious Kabyle vases. Struck by the resemblance, I bought one of each, to complete my little illustrative museum of native pottery; and I have them now set up in the horseshoe arch by the window before my eyes as I write, a perpetual reminder of the true origin of all the bottles known