coffee grower's sons © 2012 . All rights reserved.

Duhn

After we had finished our coffee, I retired to the edge of my bed and attended to what little toilet I could while the beduin squatted in the smoke of the fire. Sa’id II sprawled in a corner, playing with his cartridge belt, loose over his hips. It had a purse in front with nothing inside it but matches and an address ; in its first cartridge compartment it held, instead of a cartridge, a little pot of kohl to decorate his eyes.

Presently he pulled out his dagger and began to breathe on it, turning to the company with a delighted smile when the steam disappeared off its shiny surface. He caught sight of me as I spread face cream over my face. He handed the dagger to little Muhammad and told him to ask me for a little of that duhn to grease it with.

Rather regretfully–for it was very precious–I put a lump on the blade, and wondered what Miss Lethbridge in Bond Street would think if she could see. Muhammad carried it gingerly into the firelight, where it was greeted with exclamations of joy.

“ Yasmin,” said Sa’id II, smelling it. All the daggers were handed up to him for a share ; a little was left over, and this he spread over his legs, remarking that it was “ better than oil.”

Freya Stark
The Southern Gates of Arabia