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LETTER xxix         SHLIMON, THE JESTER                       291

She is astir early and late, measuring, weighing, direct-
ing, the embodiment of Proverbs chap. xxxi. No little
brain-power must be required for the ordering of such a
household and the meeting of such emergencies as that
of to-day, when twenty Jelu men arrived unexpectedly.

The serving-men all look like bandits. The medieval
Jester is in existence here, Shlimon, a privileged person,
who may say and do anything, and take all manner of
liberties, and who, by his unlimited buffooneries, helps
the Patriarch and his family through the dulness of the
winter days. He and another faithful fellow, said to be
equally quick with his tongue and his dagger, are Mar
Shimun's personal servants. At fixed hours the latter
carries food to his lord in tinned copper bowls on a large
round tray, knives and forks not having penetrated to

The routine of the day is as follows. The Patriarch
rises very early, and says prayers at dawn, after which
those who have the entrfo are served with pipes and coffee
in his room, and talk ad libitum. Business of all sorts
follows; a siesta is taken at mid-day, then there is business
again, and unlimited talk with unlimited smoking till five,
when the Patriarch goes to prayers at church, after which
everybody is at liberty to attend his le^de, and talking
and smoking go on till 9 or 10 P.M. It is a life without
privacy or quiet. The affairs of the mountains, litigation,
tribal feuds, the difficulty of raising the tribute, the
gossip of the village, and just now, above all else, the
excesses of the Kurds, form the staple of conversation, as

I understand from Qasha------, who, as a personal friend,

spends much of the day in the Patriarch's room. In
winter, when Kochanes is snowed up, chess and the pranks
and witticisms of the Jester fill up the time.

The curious little court, the rigid etiquette, the clank
of arms, the unbounded hospitality, and the political and