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difference in perspective. . . . In the also in the present. The love song desert theatre the horizon line widens celebrated in extemporaneous couplets until the human creature dwarfs into a the charms and beauty of a lady in a mere atom, and even the caravan — near-by village, soon to be the bride of where every tribal instinct was centred our guest who brandished his gun so
— for the moment disappears into im- carelessly, and who seemed to suggest a mensity, and leaves but its tracks upon Bedouin Cyrano, so swift and apt were the shifting yellow sands.
his responses. They sang of his lady's Our first stand was made beyond the eyes; of the day when he had seen her pyramid field, on the edge of the great pass on a camel; when he swore to win Libyan Desert. We sat in the evening her love; of the beauty of the night; and by our tent flap, gazing at the palm of passionate love too great for any trees of the distant village of Dashur, heart to hold. And then they sang of which we knew would soon be lost to the rival who also claimed the lady. sight as we continued our trail into the And — still in song — he said, if the wide horizon of the desert.
rival won his lady, it was Allah's wish This dramatic pause in the day's that this should be; and so his rival adventures rightly presaged a change would not be slain. of mood. An armed guard, sent by the As a foil to this romantic tale there sheik of the village, arrived to look over was an interlude of a martial character the personnel of our troupe and see if in which the gun became the dramatic we were harboring a desert pirate with 'prop' of a war dance. Far into the a price on his head. For these Arab night they sang and danced, these sheiks are stern upholders of tribal children of the desert, as the moon rights, and their tribunal is still the gun played over the tops of the distant rather than the court of law. Reassured palm trees. by Machmud, they stayed and took part in what became a lyric interlude Caravan life and fighting winds and instead of — what might have been – sands are too absorbing in mid-desert the last act of a melodrama.
to admit of the nightly repertoire; We were suddenly reminded by the but rehearsals were always called, and tuning-up of a chorus that the second the regular subscribers had the sense performance of our repertory theatre of real adventure in the addition of was about to begin. This proved to be occasional neighborhood patrons — a strictly Arab folk-drama and even the gazelles, hyenas, and jackals. tabla and sofara were banned as too It was only when the stage was set sophisticated, being pro-Egyptian. The on the fringe of the palm trees and ballad form is still the popular Bedouin canals of an oasis that another imtradition. The performance had all the portant opening claimed the attention flavor of true romance and the personal of first-nighters. This was a gala note' desired by our ablest critics. The performance of a visiting company. All lyric was apparently aimed at one of star cast was promised and did not fail. our guests, who tossed his gun care The custom of the desert is to offer lessly while he pantomimed an acknowl- both food and lodging to its enteredgment in response. The romantic tainers who come without wardrobe cadences told that it was a love trunk or toothbrush to spend the night. song, and through our interpreters we After the customary hospitality had gathered that in Bedouin life romance is been dispensed, the dining-hall with not confined to the past but flourishes Machmud's deft technique was soon changed into stage and auditorium. cles, and we now understood the pride
As the two subscribers entered, the in each added pound, and why obesity orchestra burst into the Khedive's is considered a distinguishing mark March of Salutation. The company of beauty. Just as with us, the poprose and offered ceremonious welcome. ularity of the toe dancer is measThe premières stepped forward and em- ured by her skill in executing intricate braced the hands of the patrons, who pas-de-ballet, so here these coryphées promptly retired to the seats assigned display sensuous emotions through the them while a prologue was sung. Its movement of each muscular fibre. interpretation may sound euphemistic From head to toe, independently and to foreigners: “This is the greatest with coördinated skill, every one of the moment of my life — no honor like it tissues vibrates like an anatomical chart has ever been mine — I have never controlled by electricity. This muscufelt so inspired.'
lar virtuosity was continued amid the During the song we looked about approving Ah-a-a-h's and Allah's of the Instead of four or five there was a audience. large retinue. Conspicuous among The danseuse resumed her seat, those present were a picturesque snatched a cigarette from the mouth of figure in sacking rags, whip in hand; a the tabla-player and joined the chorus, sheik from the Sudan, a study in black- lustily singing one of the popular airs of and-white; innumerable neighbors the day. The performance grew more wrapped in heavy Bedouin burnouses, and more informal and flowed from besides our own tribe.
song into dance, from ballad into songThe curtain rang up on a setting by and-dance. The tabla always set the Omar Ismail, the famous tent-maker of rhythm, reënforced by the hand-clapthe Mouski. Bakst at his best never ping of the audience; the penetrating produced an atmosphere at once so falsetto of the men carried the melody, simple and complete, so colorful yet so the sofara added the melodic counterrestrained. The brazier lighting-system point, and the women supplied both in vogue here was supplemented on this rhythm and movement and often the occasion by the usual Jones touch: one melody as well. This gave the effect at half-burned candle skillfully placed to times of a symphony orchestra replay upon the hem of the star's trailing hearsing ultra-modern discords, and calico Mother Hubbard.
we gasped with amazement when all The danseuse was a lady whose ended the coda simultaneously. Infigure outweighed the fair Turkish De- stead of being — as we had imagined — light of Cairo's White Way by several an independent solo by each perhundred. Her costume had evidently former, to them it was a familiar been partially executed by the Egyp harmonic composition. . tian agent of Jaeger and Company. We must not forget one of the most And our conjecture as to the deprecia- important and original orchestral tion of Austrian currency was con- effects — which we strongly recomfirmed:a point that has been overlooked mend to all our friends of the baton. by the international financiers — all Comrades all, do not bemoan your the gold currency of that country now empty bottles; a most æsthetic use can hangs on the breasts, arms, and ankles be made of them, to add color to the of the yashmaked and unyashmaked harmonic and pictorial effect of producladies of Egypt.
tion. Like some other Little Theatre Our dancer began to tune her mus. colleagues, these artists of the desert
This n the air. And swung sazing pung
do not confine their art to one medium its burden upwards with the nonchalbut are able to express themselves with ance of a Spanish dancer toying with a equal ease in movement, melody, or lighted cigarette. Tossing these properacrobatics. This was next demonstrated. ties aside, he next grasped our young A dark powerful creature, who up to Mohammed, who was gazing with this point had been as remote a mem- bated breath, and swung him lightly ber of the orchestra as the tympana- through the air. player, sprang into the centre of the This was too insignificant a test of stage and captured most of the laurels strength and skill; so he challenged the of the evening by his amazing feats. strong man of our Machmud tribe, and Snatching off his galabya or outer gar- the powers of these Titans were transment, he stood transformed — a gor- formed into the figures of a wrestling geous figure in the ravishing Egyptian dance, amid the wild acclamation of parallel of the B. V. D.
the audience. The opposing tribes now Dexterously capturing Sardi's kufieh applauded with the enthusiasm of a from his unsuspecting head and twist- football match, but were never carried ing it round his own waist, the transfor- beyond the rhythmic beats set by the mation from orchestral player to dancer orchestra. was complete. Steel blades glistened in When two-thirty arrived and the his hand and became the dramatic performance was still at its height, motif of a wild Syrian dance. Bran- we realized that even we, accustomed dished in every direction, now here, to midnight hours, could not compete now there, sometimes perilously near with the inexhaustible flow of the the audience, they vied with his eyes repertoire of this Theatre of the Desert. in their passionate fervor, while the We apologetically rose to leave. This body moved in vigorous rhythmic con- proved to be the signal for another tortions. This thrilling exhibition motif. The première stood also, swayreached its climax in an orgy of pan- ing toward us, the orchestra playing tomimed self-mutilation, but was only with greater fervor. She placed a hand prevented from reaching a still greater on either of our shoulders and with height by the inartistic sensibilities of irresistibly insinuating movements the western audience who, satisfied challenged our waning endurance still with this symbolic rendering, refused to further. We found ourselves in the accept the more realistic conclusion, centre of this swaying, beating, singing, with flowing blood.
cheering, swarthy company. Round This was merely a prelude to the and round, on and on we turned, in divertissement. ... There was no sug- what was probably a pathetic imitation gestion of the usual effete Occidental of her movements, until we found ouror Oriental effeminacy about this dan- selves near the open tent-flap and fairly cer and his pas seul.
reeled from it into the quiet calm of the Dark hair in confused masses, eyes night. Our desert players still shouting gleaming, he sprang into another mood. to us, 'Quies chales,' — 'better than He snatched up two incongruous chairs, the best,' — and we in turn, panting for setting them one on top of another breath, ‘Vive le Théâtre! Vive l’Arabil and both crowning a table. Still we retired to our sleeping-tent. The with no interruption of the rhythm of morning stars had come and gone, but feet and body, he grasped the edge of our guests were still lost in the enchantthe table in his teeth, and lifted it and ment of their fantasia.
BY W. 0. STODDARD, JR.
“THERE is no God. There is no Heaven. slouch hat; a rough tan suit, and his There is no Hell. There is only igno- face though kindly did not invite familrance. The speaker stood on a soap iarity. The hair was gray and black, box on the east side of Madison Square. the eyes gray, the nose Roman, and He was short of stature, medium the mouth wide and firm. He was listenweight; the face was round, with the ing intently to the foreign orator. His forehead low and projecting. He was first sensation had been shock, surpast middle age but not old. His eyes prise, and pain. Then came confusion were black as was his hair, which he of mind and doubt as to the sincerity wore after the manner of an impresario. of the speaker. Presently resistance The accent, though faint, suggested began to assemble within him and he Southern Europe.
edged nearer to the soap box, listenHis constantly shifting audience gave ing, waiting — a born fighter from a him but casual attention. New Yorkers land of fighting men. will stop to look at, to listen to — The orator was gaining headway and almost nothing. Down in their hearts he had caught his audience. They were is the country general-store-and-post listening. 'And as for Jonah, nobody, office habit, though they pride them not even your church-going hypocrites selves on their cosmopolitanism. There themselves, believe in Jonahwere messenger boys, there was a po 'I believe in Jonah.' It was the tall liceman, there were taxi-drivers, there man with the square goatee. were real business men, there were Ah, this was going to be good. A loafers, there were foreign- and native sensation at last. Hush, let the old born. There was also a tall man who boy have his way. Look at him. He looked the stranger even in so motley does n't need a soap box to stand on. a group. He did not belong. He Watch him wag his head. was from the country; that much was 'Shut up, you fool,' snapped the oraevident to any New Yorker. Therefore tor. “When I finish you can have your he was queer and to be smiled upon. say, if anybody will listen to a man who He wore a squarish goatee — that believes in Jonah. As I was saying also was provocative of laughter; 'I believe in Jonah.' It was a voice but there were little tufts of hair not to be hushed. The soap-box orator protruding from his ears and that glowered his hate but the believer in was something to call forth a full- Jonah rolled on. 'I reckon yo'-all are throated laugh. However, no one had men an' I reckon I'm one. Jonah was laughed as yet for there was a dig- a pesky mean cuss jes like we-all. God nity about the rustic that gave pause. give Jonah a job. He said “Go to NinDressed for the part he might have eveh an' tell 'em they 're hell-bent, an' posed for the standardized caricature if they don't quit in fo’ty days or less of Uncle Sam. However he wore a I'll wipe 'em off the slate an' that's that." The speaker paused. The soap- 'Listen to that!' screeched the soapbox orator opened his mouth as though box orator. to recapture his lecture, but the crowd 'Go on, go on,' yelled the crowd. had forgotten him. Here was some 'Friends,' said the southern farmer, thing new. 'Go on Whiskers!' called a 'yo'-all can see what I am. I ain't got voice, while other voices echoed, 'Go on.' enough theology about me to fill a
'Did Jonah obey orders? I'll say he toad's pocket-book, but they's somedid not. He piked it for Joppa, bought thin' so darn human about this here a ferry-ticket for Tarshish, tryin' to Jonah I can't stand no reflections on lose Jehovah, but that's where he his character, a-tall. In fact, he's jest smashed his molasses jug. Yo'-all can't like me an' maybe like you, I don't sidestep God that away. Jehovah jest know. An' here's this fish that come messed up them waves till the old tub along so opportune. I don't know layover on her beams'ends, an’ was like about that fish an' I don't care; the to bust in two. The sailors lost their only thing I do understand is Jonah, nerve an' chucked over everything that an' that's because he's so tarnal human. was n't nailed down. Presently they Look here, now, look at this Jonah, came to Jonah, who was sleepin' com- down an' out. What's he do? Cries to fortable-like down in the hold. The God jest like you an' me. God gives captain give him a call-down and told him a chance to do somethin' worthhim to git busy an' pray his god an' see while. Jonah chucks the job an' then, if it would do any good. Everybody first minute he's in trouble, he calls had his own particular god them days. on his god. I done the same, mebby
'Nothin' doin', an' the storm gittin' yo'-all can remember somethin' like it. worse every minute. Them heathen What's Jonah say? He's down, way had to blame somebody— so they down, death would look good to him throwed dice an’ lit on Jonah.
but he can't die. He's lost his chance ‘Jonah knew he was a quitter an'an' he's a failure in his own eyes. He's made no bones about it. Fact is he down an' can't raise himself out o' it stood up for his god like a man. The all. But he calls on his god an' tells sailors liked that and asked him what him where he is — down there on the to do, and Jonah braced up an' says bottom of the mountains under the sea “chuck me overboard an' the sea will among the weeds, under the bars o' the flatten out.” Just the same them sail. world and lost forever. An' look here! ors rowed for all there was in it, tryin' Jonah's prayer came into the holy temto make the shore. Nothin' doin'. ple right befo’ Jehovah; an' Jehovah Then they prayed to Jonah's god. saw it, and Jehovah spoke to the fish, Nothin' doin'. Then they chucked an' it lifted Jonah up, up from the black Jonah overboard, an' they did n't like hole at the bottom o'the sea where we the job either. Then the sea flattened all git, an' let him out on dry land. As I out into a calm, an' the sailors ad- said befo’ I ain't no theologian, an' I mitted as how Jonah had a regular god. don't know a thing about big fish an'
‘But God weren't through with Jonah not much about little fish. All I know yet. Yo'-all can't beat out God by jest is Jonah. He's so darn human. kickin' off. There's more to it yet. A ‘Now here's Jonah on dry land ag'in. fish comes along with a mouth like a cellar What next? First, what's Jehovah door. Open an' shut; an' Jonah had a goin' do, an' second, what's Jonah reservation for three days an' three goin' do? First Jehovah gives Jonah a nights.
second chance. That's what we all