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The Dragoman’s Tales by Otis Adelbert Kline

The Dragoman’s Tales by Otis Adelbert Kline

In these seven stories, Hamed the Dragoman will take tourists who come to his city, to the coffee shop of Silat where he tells tales of his life, his loves, his intrigues and his battles.

Book Details

Book Details

The Dragoman’s Tales (1931-1933) – In these seven stories, Hamed the Dragoman will take tourists who come to his city, to the coffee shop of Silat where he tells tales of his life, his loves, his intrigues and his battles.

The Man Who Limped
The strange and disagreeable adventure of Hamed the Attar, and how he overcame his perverse hatred of women.

The Dragoman’s Revenge
Hamed the Attar was accused of a foul murder he did not commit—a strange tale of Arab justice.

The Dragoman’s Secret
Khallaf the Strong inflicted dire tortures on Hamed the Attar, and would have done him to death.
A novelette of five chapters.

The Dragoman’s Slave Girl
A fascinating story of Hamed the Attar, which has all the glamor of “The Arabian Nights.”
A novelette of seven chapters

The Dragoman’s Jest
The exciting story of a jest that turned into deadly earnest—a tale of a beautiful woman, desert warfare, and the slave-train of the bandit ibn Sakr

The Dragoman’s Confession
A smashing action-adventure story about an Arabian dragoman’s love for a beautiful Chinese girl.
A novella of twelve chapters

The Dragoman’s Pilgrimage
A story of the utterly strange and amazing adventure that befell Hamed the Dragoman in the holy city of Mecca.
A novelette of five chapters

OS1932 Winter The Dragomans Tales by Otis Adelbert Kline
Oriental Stories – Winter 1932

Otis Adelbert Kline (1891–1946), born in Chicago, Illinois, was a songwriter, an adventure novelist and literary agent during the pulp era. Kline was an amateur orientalist and a student of Arabic.

In the mid-1930s Kline largely abandoned writing to concentrate on his career as a literary agent, primarily for author Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian. Kline represented Howard from the spring of 1933 till Howard’s death in June 1936, and continued to act as literary agent for Howard’s estate thereafter.

Kline is perhaps best known for an apocryphal literary feud with fellow author Edgar Rice Burroughs, over their respective Mars, Venus and jungle series of stories, but this was debunked when the source of the supposed feud admitted to making it all up.

The Dragoman’s Tales has 12 illustrations.


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Excerpt: The Dragoman’s Tales

The Man Who Limped

The strange and disagreeable adventure of Hamed the Attar, and how he overcame his perverse hatred of women.

YOU wonder why I limp, effendi? You are too considerate to ask, of course, but I, whom Allah, in his infinite goodness and mercy, has already permitted two years beyond man’s allotted three score and ten, have learned to read the thoughts of people by their expressions. Serving as a dragoman sharpens the wits.

You will hear the story? So be it. Here is the coffee-shop of Silat where we can rest in comfort, and the tale will serve to while away the time. This cushioned diwan is better than the sidewalk stools, and more quiet.

Ho, Silat! Pipes and coffee for two.

You know me, effendi, as Hamed bin Ayyub, the Dragoman, for thus it is that I have been known for many a year—subsisting on the baksheesh of worthy travelers like yourself, and showing them the sights of the Holy City.

None remain who remember me as Hamed the Attar, for full fifty years have passed since I was a druggist and perfumer with a prosperous shop of my own.

Looking on this gray beard, this wrinkled countenance, and this withered frame, you will scarce be able to picture Hamed the Attar, for in those days I was a handsome youth with a skin as smooth as peach-bloom, a beard as black as night, and a tall, straight body that was the envy of many of my less favored acquaintances.

Most of my customers, effendi, were women, and I was patronized not only by the wives and daughters of the middle class, but by many of the great ladies and kohl-eyed beauties of the harems, as well.

Aihee! What a business I did in scents, cosmetics and unguents, in henna, depilatories and aphrodisiacs, so that each day added to my profits, and I was in a fair way to become a man of great wealth.

Each day, also, added to my knowledge of the ways of women, for being prosperous I attracted flirtations from those of little wealth who desired husbands, and being also good to look upon, I received signs, hints, and even plain proposals from those who had wealthy lords but desired handsome lovers.

Many were the kohl-rimmed eyes that signed to me with signs of love—many the slender, henna-tipped fingers that sought to thrill me with their gentle pressures, and many the yashmaks that were dropped as if by accident from faces of such ravishing beauty as would have broadened the breast of a sultan.

My father, on whom be peace, was a great and wise Imam, and a true and pious believer. “My son,” he had told me a hundred times, “beware of women who sign with the eyes and hands—and avoid as thou wouldst the unclean those who, feigning accident or innocence, disclose their charms to thy gaze, for if thou wert to take one of them to wife, Eblis himself could not play thee more falsely, nor wreak more mischief and bring more sorrow upon thee.

His words, perhaps because of their repetition, and also of the great love and respect I bore my father, had made a firm and lasting impression on my mind. Nevertheless, having an eye to business, I feigned ignorance to those who signed or hinted, put off with excuses those who made plain proposals, and turned piously away when aught was revealed that should not be, though I must confess that I was at times sorely tempted, and would perhaps have yielded, had it not been for the timely warning of my father. Thus it came about, that I slowly grew to be a decided misogynist.

For two years this went on, adding to my wealth and to my distrust of and dislike for women. That is, effendi, I thought I disliked women.

Then I saw the woman.

Having grown sufficiently prosperous, I had taken a pretentious, richly-furnished house in a quarter favored by well-to-do merchants, and had bought two black slaves to minister to my wants.

So it chanced that, on the evening of the day I took possession of my new dwelling, when my shop was closed and vesper prayers were over, I mounted to my housetop to smoke my shishah in the moonlight and enjoy the coolness of the evening.”

Scarcely had I seated myself on the cushioned diwan which my slaves had brought up for me, ere I heard the soft tones of a woman’s voice, so silvery sweet that they might have been those of a houri from Paradise, singing a love song of the Badawin.

There was that about the voice which thrilled me unaccountably, and I was consumed with a desire to see the singer. Presently, unable to restrain myself longer, I stood up on the diwan and looked over the wall. With that look, effendi, went the heart of Hamed the Attar.

THE voice, I have said, might have been that of a houri from Paradise, but when I looked over the wall it seemed to me that I looked on one whose comeliness would turn a houri furious with envy. All unmindful of my ardent gaze, she reclined on a low diwan placed among potted shrubs and flowers, singing to a bird suspended in a cage before her. And even as I looked, she finished her song, and the bird answered her with trilling notes of its own.

To this day, effendi, I see her in my dreams as I saw her that night, her beauty radiant as the sun at dawn, with hair of spun, red gold, with Paradise in her eyes, her bosom an enchantment, and a form waving like the tamarisk when the soft wind blows from the hills of Nejd.

At some distance from her on a mat, there sat an old slave-woman with folded hands. Presently, with croaking voice, she interrupted the sweet warbling of the bird.

“Salamah Khatun,” she said, “you sing so beautifully that the voice of the thrush rasps harshly in comparison. It is perhaps for gladness that you sing.”

“What gladness, Ya Ummi? I have no reason to be glad.”

“Is it not, then, an occasion for great joy that your brave and handsome cousin, Sheik Ali ben Mohammed, comes to take you to wife ere the moon waxes full again?”

“To be his third wife, and thus subject to the rule of the first and the jealousies of the second? I do not so understand the significance of joy.”

“I, too, was young once, my lady, and though a slave, I loved and sang for love. You cannot fool me thus easily, my pretty.”

“Nor do I seek to, Ya Ummi, but rather to confide in you. I sing for love, but not for love of Sheik Ali, who forces his cousinly claims on me.”

“Awah! I suspposed as much. Today I saw the blush that suffused your cheeks when the youthful attar gazed into your eyes for but a moment. The yashmak could not hide it from my old, dim eyes, yet that young and sanctimonious fool did not perceive it. Or if he be not a fool, then is he like graven stone, and in neither case would he be worth a paring of your nail.”

Now when I heard these, words of the old woman, effendi, though they were not complimentary, my heart leaped with a great joy that knew no bounds, for it happened that I was the only youthful attar in the city, and that I now recognized these two as having come into my shop that very afternoon. I recalled that the young lady had purchased a bottle of my most expensive scent from me, and had blushed when I looked into her eyes for a moment, whereat I had tactfully paid no attention, as was my wont, though marveling at the unusual occurrence. For while signing with the eyes and hands are voluntary, and denote boldness, a blush is involuntary and denotes modesty. It was like finding a nugget of pure gold in a worthless heap of glittering dross.

The old hag continued to vilify me, calling me an “Akh al-Jahalah” which means “Brother of Ignorance,” and many other unpleasant names which I will not trouble to repeat, but her tirade was suddenly cut short by the girl.

“Enough!” she exclaimed. “I will not permit you to slander him thus. Begone, now, and prepare me a warm bath against my retiring.”

The old woman rose, shaking her head sorrowfully.

“Awah! Awah!” she groaned. “If this should come to the ears of the great Sheik Ali ben Mohammed, what calamities will befall us all! Were you to marry this fool of a drug-mixer this very night, the next full moon would find you both dead of his wrath, or you a widow and mayhap a slave; whence I would either be a slave of nobody or a slave of a slave.”

“Have no fear, Ya Ummi, that I will marry him this night, nor any other,” said the girl. “He does not even know that I exist; much less does he care. Go now. Prepare my bath and cease your wailing, or people will think we have a death in the house.”

Excerpt From: Otis Adelbert Kline. “The Dragoman’s Tales.”

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