Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
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Mallock W. H. The Thereshold of a new life


Larnaca has no harbour; there is only an open roadstead; and we dropped our anchor about half a mile from shore. I was busy in the saloon over some coffee, when voices and shouts outside proclaimed that the islanders were already beginning to board us; and when I passed presently into my cabin, which like the saloon, on deck, there was a red fez cap at the window, and a brown bearded face, courting my attention with a plaintive, enquiring smile. I lowered the glass, and a voice in delightful English (by which I mean that it was just bad enough to be pathetic) asked if I was the gentleman who was going to land at Larnaca. I said that I was. 'Eight, sir,' the voice replied. 'You show me your things. I have good boat here; I put you ashore directly take you to custom house; if you want it, get you a carriage. Yes, sir, I manage yes, sir.' The man's manner had something very taking in it, and so had his whole appearance when I saw him at full length outside. His dress, except for his Oriental head-gear, might very well have belonged to a British sailor a loose pea-jacket and trousers of blue serge but his face, handsome in feature and dark in colour, had the curious expression only to be found in the East, an expression of appeal and devotion like that of a faithful dog. He was as good as his word. He very soon had me in a boat, manned by a negro and two brigand-like Greeks. As I sat by him in the stern he told me he was an Arab from Syria, but that he knew Cyprus thoroughly from end to end. I told him I wished to go to the house of the Chief Secretary, and
was charmed when he answered promptly, 'Eight, sir ; I know the gentleman.'
After heavily mounting and falling for some time on the swell we arrived at last at a short wooden jetty, with a small steam crane pertly peering over its side, and a square building facing it like a new village school in England. The British flag flying
over this last told me that it was the custom house. Experience presently told me the same thing, for all my luggage was instantly carried off to it and deposited in a verandah, before a door which proved to be locked. The officials, it seemed, were, all of them away at breakfast, and my Arab protector suggested that I should follow their example. ' If you like,' he said, ' I take you to the hotel. While you eat I go order the carriage good carriage, sir ; three horses and I arrange with these fellows for the price of him. Come, sir, come this way.' I assented and went with him. In something like thirty seconds I had passed out of sight of the steam crane and the custom house into a world whose suggestions were utterly strange and different. I was moving rapidly along an ill-paved species of esplanade between the sea and a succession of houses perforated with pointed arches. Some of these seemed to my hasty glance in passing to give access to nothing but caves of darkness ; others revealed glimpses of primitive shops, like fragments of mediaeval Italy ; and above, protruded on quaint supports over the road, were sleepy Oriental windows, blinded with wooden lattice-work.
Presently my guide plunged into one of the arched interiors, which seemed a sort of cross between a grocer's shop and a drinking-bar ; and having spoken a word or two to a woman hidden in the background, he led me out into a wide, echoing passage and up a flight of bare stone stairs at the end of it. These brought us to a stone-paved, capacious landing, in the middle of which stood a table, with a white cloth and some plates on it. Here my guide begged me to sit down and wait, and engaged, as he hurried off, that some breakfast should at once be sent to me. It came duly, brought by a sallow Greek ; and whilst I was finishing it my guide again showed himself; and coming up to me with an air of engaging apology, put into my hand a packet of dirty letters. After a moment's puzzled inspection I realised what these were. They were testimonials to liis character, from stewards of yachts and from
men-of-war's officers, for whom, I gathered, he had often acted as interpreter. He also told me a fact which gave me more interest in him that he had, at one time of his life, been servant to Colonel Valentine liaker. I asked him his name. He answered
in a word of two syllables, which I mentally spelt S, k, 6, t, i, with a circumflex accent written over the 6. I was, therefore, amused when a moment later he said, ' Once, sir, I been at Glasgow.That why they call me Scotty. Abdullah Scotty, that my name, sir. This coat, these trousers, I get him both in Glasgow. I think, sir,' he added, ' if we go now, they ready by this time at the custom house.'
This proved to be true. A dapper Maltese, in a check shooting-coat, did what was necessary in the way of inspecting my luggage ; and whilst waiting for the carriage, which Scotty told me he had ordered, I wandered about in an open space close by and tried to realise my first impressions of the island.

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