by Mark Twain

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INNOCENTS ABROAD Volume VI by Mark Twain


We descended from Mount Tabor, crossed a deep ravine, followed a hilly,
rocky road to Nazareth--distant two hours. All distances in the East are
measured by hours, not miles. A good horse will walk three miles an hour
over nearly any kind of a road; therefore, an hour, here, always stands
for three miles. This method of computation is bothersome and annoying;
and until one gets thoroughly accustomed to it, it carries no
intelligence to his mind until he has stopped and translated the pagan
hours into Christian miles, just as people do with the spoken words of a
foreign language they are acquainted with, but not familiarly enough to
catch the meaning in a moment. Distances traveled by human feet are also
estimated by hours and minutes, though I do not know what the base of the
calculation is. In Constantinople you ask, "How far is it to the
Consulate?" and they answer, "About ten minutes." "How far is it to the
Lloyds' Agency?" "Quarter of an hour." "How far is it to the lower
bridge?" "Four minutes." I can not be positive about it, but I think
that there, when a man orders a pair of pantaloons, he says he wants them
a quarter of a minute in the legs and nine seconds around the waist.

Two hours from Tabor to Nazareth--and as it was an uncommonly narrow,
crooked trail, we necessarily met all the camel trains and jackass
caravans between Jericho and Jacksonville in that particular place and
nowhere else. The donkeys do not matter so much, because they are so
small that you can jump your horse over them if he is an animal of
spirit, but a camel is not jumpable. A camel is as tall as any ordinary
dwelling-house in Syria--which is to say a camel is from one to two, and
sometimes nearly three feet taller than a good-sized man. In this part
of the country his load is oftenest in the shape of colossal sacks--one
on each side. He and his cargo take up as much room as a carriage.
Think of meeting this style of obstruction in a narrow trail. The camel
would not turn out for a king. He stalks serenely along, bringing his
cushioned stilts forward with the long, regular swing of a pendulum, and
whatever is in the way must get out of the way peaceably, or be wiped out
forcibly by the bulky sacks. It was a tiresome ride to us, and perfectly
exhausting to the horses. We were compelled to jump over upwards of
eighteen hundred donkeys, and only one person in the party was unseated
less than sixty times by the camels. This seems like a powerful
statement, but the poet has said, "Things are not what they seem." I can
not think of any thing, now, more certain to make one shudder, than to
have a soft-footed camel sneak up behind him and touch him on the ear
with its cold, flabby under-lip. A camel did this for one of the boys,
who was drooping over his saddle in a brown study. He glanced up and saw
the majestic apparition hovering above him, and made frantic efforts to
get out of the way, but the camel reached out and bit him on the shoulder
before he accomplished it. This was the only pleasant incident of the

At Nazareth we camped in an olive grove near the Virgin Mary's fountain,
and that wonderful Arab "guard" came to collect some bucksheesh for his
"services" in following us from Tiberias and warding off invisible
dangers with the terrors of his armament. The dragoman had paid his
master, but that counted as nothing--if you hire a man to sneeze for you,
here, and another man chooses to help him, you have got to pay both.
They do nothing whatever without pay. How it must have surprised these
people to hear the way of salvation offered to them "without money and
without price." If the manners, the people or the customs of this
country have changed since the Saviour's time, the figures and metaphors
of the Bible are not the evidences to prove it by.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940012773470
Publisher: SAP
Publication date: 07/23/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 112 KB

About the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), best known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an author and humorist noted for the novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which has been called "The Great American Novel") and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, among many other books. Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and he spent time as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before finding fame as a writer.

Date of Birth:

November 30, 1835

Date of Death:

April 21, 1910

Place of Birth:

Florida, Missouri

Place of Death:

Redding, Connecticut

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