The Lighted Match (Chapter 26)

 
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Chapter 26 : Page 1 of 9

The muezzin had called the devout to their prayer-rugs for the third
time that day, when the girl and the two men turned from the Stamboul
end of Galata Bridge into the tawdry confusion of buildings which
cluster about the Mosque Yeni-Djami. They were bound for the bazaars.

Along the twisting ways stretched the booths of native merchants stocked
with the thousand fascinating trifles that the City of the Sultan
markets to the journeying world. Everywhere the crowd surged and
jostled.

On the side street where the shops are a trifle larger than their
neighbors, one Mohammed Abbas keeps his curio bazaar. In such flowery
Orientalism of appeal did he couch his plea for an inspection of his
wares, that Cara was persuaded and turned into the shop. Cut off by
pressure of the crowd, Pagratide, who was following, some paces back,
caught a glimpse of her figure in the door and fought his way to her
side, but Benton, having stopped to price a bracelet of antique silver
set with turquoises, lost sight of them. The girl had become interested
in a quaint, curved dagger thickly studded with semi-precious stones.

Mohammed Abbas urged her to see the rarer and choicer articles which he
kept in an upper room. As they tailed, a half-dozen natives, swarthy and
villainous of face, drifted into the shop to be promptly ordered out by
the proprietor, who used for that purpose a vocabulary of scope and
vividness. The ruffians retreated after a brief conversation in guttural
Arabic, but not by the street door through which they had come. Instead,
they left by a low-arched exit to the rear, concealed from view by the
angle of the screening stairway. Abbas led his customers to an upper
room which they found dark except where he lighted it as he went with
hanging lamps. Its space was generous, broken here and there by piles of
ebony furniture, inlaid with pearl; pieces of Saracenic armor,
Damascened bucklers, and all the gear too large for the narrow confines
below.

 
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