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or slippers. The people not only use their carpets for domestic purposes, but to kneel upon when they say their prayers, hence they consider them in some respects sacred. When a visitor enters a room, he leaves his slippers or shoes at the door. Before supper is served, a servant brings a basin and a ewer 66 to pour water on the hands of his guests. The person holds out his hands, one after the other, and the servant pours water upon them from the long spout of his ewer, while the basin underneath receives the water which falls from them. They then draw themselves round the tray on which the dishes are placed, and begin to eat their food with much earnestness. They eat their meals without tables, knives, or forks. The guests sit on the felt carpet along one side of the room, with their backs leaning against the wall. Trays containing a dish of beautiful plain boiled rice, with another dish, containing butter and meat or vegetables, are placed before them, one tray being placed for every two guests. When all are thus served, the master of the feast says, "In the name of God!" by way of grace, and the meal begins.
It is considered at a Persian dinner a compliment for a person to offer you a piece out of a dish that stands before him, which he does with his fingers. This you are expected to receive and devour with a peculiar relish, and it would be regarded as an insult if you were to refuse it. One of the Persians took a piece of meat from his dish with his fingers, and offered it to an Englishman
sitting by him, who set about eating it at once with a coolness that surprised his companions. When we are in foreign countries, it is as well to conform to the manners and customs of the people as much as we can.
The Persians are very expert in picking up the rice and meat with their fingers, and carrying them to their mouths. They do it without spilling a grain of rice, or a drop of sauce, but it is very awkward to a European. When the meal is over the master of the house says, "Thanks be to God," and the company disperses.
The Persians are a very polite people, and are never tired with pouring compliments on their visitors. An American relates how a Persian governor enquired of him, "Is your health good? Is your appetite lusty? Are you in fat condition?" and he said these things so rapidly that he found no room to put in a reply. The governor further said, "Your coming is delightful? Your arrival is gladsome? Upon my eyes you have come?" In order to turn the conversation to something else he remarked that he had come from the New World, but he replied, "Everything must be excellent that comes from the New World."
When a stranger visits the country he is greeted with such expressions as these, "Your presence has made all Persia a garden? Persia is unworthy of your acceptance," and such like expressions.
In attempting to make purchases of the Persians, the article you desire, is always stated at the outset to be a present to you, and its owner your
sérvant and your sacrifice. If you ask him what he wants for it, he repeats that it is a present; and if you press him still further, he says that since you will not take the article without paying for it, you must name your own price, for he can sell nothing to you. If you mention a fair sum, he will flatly reply that you shall not have it for that; and by this time he throws away his fine speeches, and demands twice or three times its known value, which you must pay him, or take the trouble of discussing the matter with him. The best way is, if he refuses your price to simply leave him, when he will quickly call after you to take the article at the price you have offered.
This account illustrates the Scripture narrative in the Book of Genesis. "And Abraham stood up, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you, give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us; in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. And Ephron said, Nay, my lord, hear me; the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; bury thy dead. And Abraham said, But if thou wilt give it me, I pray thee, hear me : I will give thee money for the field. And Ephron said, My lord, the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that between me and
thee? And Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant."
THE HOG AND OTHER ANIMALS.
A debate once arose among the animals in a farm-yard, which of them was most valued by their master. After the horse, the ox, the cow, the sheep, and the dog had each stated their views, the hog took up the discourse as follows:
"It is plain," said he, "that the greatest value must be set upon that animal which is kept most for his own sake, without expecting from him any return of use or service. Now which of you can boast so much in that respect as I can ?
"As for you, horse, though you are very well fed and lodged, and have servants to attend upon you, and make you sleek and clean, yet all this is for the sake of your labour. Do not I see you taken out early every morning, put in chains, or fastened to the shafts of a heavy cart, and not brought back till evening?
For you, cow, who are so dainty over your hay and chaff, you are thought worth keeping only for your milk, which is drained from you twice a day, to the last drop; while your poor young ones are taken from you, and sent far away, or given to the butcher to kill for meat.
"You, poor innocent sheep, who are turned out to shift for yourselves upon the bare hills, you pay
dearly enough for your keep by giving up your warm coat every year, for want of which you are liable to be starved to death in some of the cold nights before summer.
"As for the dog, who prides himself so much on being admitted to our master's table, he is obliged to do all the work of a household servant by day, and to keep watch during the night while we are quietly asleep.
"In short, you are all of you creatures kept for use-some to draw burdens, some to be fleeced of your coats, some to give milk to your masters, and others to guard his property from the thieves at night. I, on the contrary, have a warm stye, and plenty of good things to eat without paying anything. I have nothing to do but to grow fat, and amuse myself: and my master is best pleased when he sees me lying at ease in the sun, or filling my belly."
Thus argued the hog, and put the rest of the animals to silence. It was not long, however, before winter set in, and it happened to be a very scarce season for fodder of all kind. The farmer began to consider how he was to keep all his live stock till the spring. "I shall not be able," thought he, "to keep them all; I must, therefore, part with those I can best spare. As for my horses, I shall have work enough to do to keep them employed; they must be kept, cost what it will. My cows will not give me much milk in the winter, but will calve in the spring, and be ready for the new grass. I must not lose the profits of