From Issa Dhamful, Ispahanee, of the Freshman Class, to Issa Beeghaz, at Teheran.
LIGHT of my eyes and constant solace of my soul, many a time has the humblest of your slaves meant to draw aside the curtain of his being to you; but, although he has been silent while among these dogs of Giaours (whom may the Prophet roast in Gehenna !) he has not ceased to think of his Beeghaz, for how truly has our divine poet Hafiz* said,
"Though lost to sight to memory dear,"
and many other sentiments sweeter than the roses of Shiraz!
O that first day among these dogs of Christians! how I suffered!
Early in the morning, before the Muezzin summons the faithful in our own beautiful Teheran, I was told to go to a small mosque which they call Shah-pehl. Faithful to the customs of my country, I entered and took my seat cross-legged on the floor, in a narrow passage which ran down the middle. I noticed that much applause followed this simple action, and have since heard that these young dogs (I will pollute the tombs of their forefathers) call this expression of feeling the uhoodhup.
A few words were said by a venerable Mollah, who is their chief, and whom they call El Peebhoh. The young men were grieved and looked in their hats. I, as you know, could not unwind my turban in a public place, but I took off my slipper and gazed in that. I presume he was cursing them. Some yawned and got behind pillars, while others took from their pockets books of charms, no doubt to avert the imprecation.
Then followed a curious rumbling from a set of pipes at the back of the mosque, and this grieved all the youths still more, while some, who sat by the pipes, opened their mouths in agony, but made no sound, respecting, doubtless, the sacredness of the place. This exercise, which seems to have no object, they call in their language Pehn, which means distress or tribulation. As this ceased the young men dashed out, some clearing me at a bound.
I left the mosque as best I could, and, putting the finger of perplexity in the mouth of deliberation, I asked a harmless-looking youth of the tribe called Soffamaw, what it was the will of the Mollahs of the place that I should do next. "Oh!" said he, (and may the Prophet singe his beard!)* "you must go to Or-phiz; every one goes to Or-phiz. Knock at the door, and ask the reverend Mollah with the white beard for his wife, the moon-faced Messisahriz." By the word wife these dogs mean the principal lady of the harem. Salaaming and thanking him for his information, I entered a large white building in front of us. I knocked some eighteen times, and, getting no answer, but, hearing the tones of a female's voice (you know, O Issa, friend of my youth, that I had quite a reputation for that sort of thing in Teheran), I entered, when, Bismillah! a fierce, white-bearded Mollah, guarding a beauteous, moon-faced damsel, imprisoned behind a high fence, confronted me. He is, doubtless, the Kislar Aga of the Dhin's household. I wished to succor the damsel, who kept crying in evident distress, "Don't know. Must see the Dhin, Mr. Jones," to a young man who appeared to be tormenting her.
I at once approached, stretching out my arms to assure her of my protection, and at the same time threw her my handkerchief, when, retreating, she opened a small window, and with a piercing cry of Phfessahouwhyte, was received by a younger Mollah within. I caught a glimpse of interior apartments, where the moon-faced houris of the Dhin's household reside, and, Allah al Akbar! Mahomet himself has not many such. By this time the Dhin appeared, and threatened that my connection with the body of Mollahs should cease if I did not immediately withdraw, but Alla Pajama, - God is Great, and I will yet pollute the tombs of their forefathers. My tablet can contain no more, and I see, my Beeghaz, that you are drawing the lid of somnolency over the eye of weariness; my other experiences must wait. I kiss your feet and withdraw.
* Poetical Editor. Is this Hafiz? It sounds very familiar. Chorus of Editors. Well, don't you ever read Hafiz? Poetical Editor. Hardly ever.
This is very Eastern, but purely figurative. Very few of this tribe have beards. A small mustache, not large enough to singe worth speaking of, is about all.
Editor who has charge of the dead and other foreign languages. Are you quite sure about pajama? I thought it meant under - Editor (friend of the oppressed Persian). Nonsense. Don't you suppose a native knows what he's talking about?