Monday, January 29, 2007

"Kafir, you have our promise, and may proceed"

“Mashallah! what is the kafir afraid of? What crimes hath he committed, that he would have his pardon granted before he tells his story?” said the pacha to Mustapha.

“No crime toward your state, your sublime highness; but when in another country, I was unfortunate,” continued the man; “I cannot tell my story, unless your highness will condescend to give your promise.”

“May it please your highness,” observed Mustapha, “he asserts his crime to have been committed in another state. It may be heavy, and I suspect ’tis murder;—but although we watch the flowers which ornament our gardens, and would punish those who cull them, yet we care not who intrudes and robs our neighbour—and thus, it appears to me, your highness, that it is with states, and sufficient for the ruler of each to watch over the lives of his own subjects.”

“Very true, Mustapha,” rejoined the pacha; “besides, we might lose the story. Kafir, you have our promise, and may proceed.”

The Story Of The Greek Slave, from Captain Marryat's The Pacha Of Many Tales. Whether the depiction of the status of Jewry under Islam (among other things) is accurate, or whether it reflects the assumptions and prejudices of the writer, I do not know. The whole thing may be the most appalling stereotyping. But it's a right riveting read.

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