Contributed by klstacy_home
Description: Delight In Guests - Household Help in PalestineDate: December 19 1919
Newspaper published in: Tupelo, MS
Source: Tupelo-Lee Co. Library
Page/Column: Page 6, Column 1
DELIGHT IN GUESTS
Pleasing Trait of Household Help in Palestine
Presence of Company to Dinner is Taken as a Compliment—
Native Woman’s Amusing Confession of Vanity
Palestine is one place in the world which has no “servant problem” according to Miss Evangeline Metheny of Beaver Falls, Pa., just returned from the Holy Land.
“The servants in Palestine,” says Miss Metheny, who has lived there most of her life, “are a different set entirely from the servants we have here in America. They make their services personal; their interest in their employer’s affairs is personal, whereas the American servant regards it impersonally.
“In Palestine, if I were to tell my house servants that there would be ten people in for dinner, they would be delighted. It would be a matter of personal pride with them that their dinner was the best to be had, and their service, too. They would be happy at the thought of working for a mistress who had so many friends that she could get together ten at one time. There would be no sulky looks or actions at the extra work; every servant would co-operate and the dinner would go off grandly.
“Here the mention of an extra guest or two creates a feeling of resentment. I know people who do not dare to invite a dinner guest until they have obtained permission from their cooks. Cooks in Palestine consider extra guests a compliment to their art. The servants in Palestine would ten times rather work for Americans than for the native population. The reason is not alone that we will pay higher wages—we treat them better. For one thing, American women do not swear at them, and native women do. They call down every kind of curse on the servant’s eyes, and his children, and his grandchildren; they say the most untranslatable things as a matter of course. It is not in the least unusual, it is quite au fait, for an Arab woman to swear so.”
Servants in Palestine may be different, but a woman is a woman the world over, Miss Metheny says with Kipling and other authorities.
“Once in a railroad train,” she says, “I was sitting in the same compartment with an old native woman. In the East there are separate carriages for men and women. In our coach there was a particularly pretty girl, and from time to time a young English or American man passed through, watching her. My old woman was kneeling on the seat with her shoes off, praying. In order to pray toward Mecca she had to kneel crosswise on the narrow seat, and the rite of bumping her head on the floor several times in each prayer was an acrobatic feat under such circumstances. Every time a young man came into the carriage she had to struggle for balance while she pulled her veil down over her face. Finally she spoke to one. “My son,” she said, “do you not know that you have no right in here with the protected ones” (women) ?
He apologized, and she raised her veil when he went out.
“You know,” she said to me in Arabic, “if I had any teeth left I would not pull down my veil. I only do it that people will think there is a nice face behind it.”