And yet this town has borne a proud name during its eight hundred years of existence the great, the learned, the mysterious city. No pilgrims flock thither to fall down in prayer before a redeemer's grave or be blessed by a high priest. No pyramids, no marble temples, make Timbuktu one of the world's wonders. No wealth, no luxuriant vegetation exist to make it an outer court to Paradise.
It was reported that the Consul had requested that no more of our pilgrims should go to the Jordan while this state of things lasted; and further, that he was unwilling that any more should go, at least without an unusually strong military guard. Here was trouble. But with the horses at the door and every body aware of what they were there for, what would you have done?
"When is the wedding to be?" "In January, I think." "Ah! When you are in your garden of paradise I shall not be very far off just across your blue sea on the African shore." "Why, where are you going, Emile?" "I shall spend the spring at the sacred city of Kairouan, among the pilgrims and the mosques, making some studies, taking some notes." "For a book? Come over to Sicily and see us."
The pilgrims and "workers of miracles" who wander through Russia can always find, not only free lodging, but also opportunity for making their fortunes. Their gains mount, often, to incredible figures, and the faith and piety that they diffuse have both good and bad aspects.
Outside the door was a barber shaving a pilgrim's head. The pilgrim was a Muslim, going on the Haj to Mecca. These pilgrims are looked on with mingled feelings; their piety is admired, but also distrusted. A local saying is, "If thy neighbor has been on the Haj, beware of him; if he has been twice, have no dealings with him; if he has been thrice, move into another street."
No traces remain of the old meeting-house save the cellar and the narrow stone steps, sadly leading nowhere, which once were pressed by the feet of the children of the Pilgrims, but now are trodden only by the curious and infrequent passer-by, or the epitaph-seeking antiquary.
Within those precincts we dreamed some temple-dreams on two golden afternoons, and slept temple-sleep on two very shiny nights. 'My reformed pilgrimage has justified itself, Vine told me on the morning that we left, when we were making for my station. 'Wait a bit, I said. 'We are arriving if all falls well, this very night at another shrine. We have not done with our Pilgrims' Way.
The two pilgrims had come from the same City of Destruction indeed, and they had met at the gate of Vanity and passed through Vanity Fair together, but, till they embraced one another again in the Celestial City, that was absolutely all the experience they had in common. Faithful had never had any such burden on his back as that was which had for so long crushed Christian to the earth.
It was the Englishman, not the Scot or the Irishman, who fought the Spaniard; who sent planters to Barbadoes; who settled colonists and convicts in Virginia; from England, not from Ireland or Scotland, went forth the Pilgrims and the Puritans.
Even if this wonderful piece of work finds a more secure resting-place in Paris, Bayeux will still attract many pilgrims for its cathedral and its domestic architecture compare favourably with many other Norman towns.