condescend to it. In the houses of the richer class several servant-maids or slave-girls are
kept continually at the tedious task. " From Pharaoh to the maidservant that is behind the
mill," shows the estimation in which grinding was held. As we pass through the streets at
the evening hour we hear the low monotonous hum of the hand-mill—the "quern" of the
Scottish Highlands. There is a hole in the centre of the upper millstone through which
the grain is passed, a handful at a time, by one of the two women who sit facing each other.
" Two women shall be grinding at the mill." Nearer the edge is another hole, in which an
upright handle is fixed ; both the women hold this together, and work it as two men would
a crosscut saw. The flour falls out on to a cloth on which the nether millstone is placed.
The stones are usually made of lava brought from the Hauran, harder and lighter than the
sandstone of the country, which indeed is not very common, the whole formation of Central
and Southern Palestine being soft, chalky, Eocene limestone.
But we cannot leave Bethlehem without recalling some of those picturesque ceremonies
connected with the Church of the Nativity, which arouse in the thousands of pilgrims far
more enthusiasm than any of the Scripture scenes and illustrations. Naturally the most
remarkable and the most frequented are those of Christmastide. The ceremonial is very
gorgeous, but few would care to undergo a second time the fatigue, crowding, and heat of a
service held in these suffocating caves, which lasts for nine hours. The French Consul from
Jerusalem is, next to the Patriarch, the most important personage on the occasion, representing
" the eldest son of the Church." He sets out on the forenoon of Christmas eve from the city,
in full state and with an imposing retinue. He is met by the Christians outside Bethlehem
and conducted in procession to the Latin Chapel. The service continues without intermission
until midnight, when there is a sudden pause, all the candles on the altar are lighted, and a
little wax image appears above it, and the " Gloria in excelsis" bursts forth with the utmost
power of organ, choir, and shepherds' pipes combined. Mass and other services follow without
intermission for two hours, when the Patriarch carries the wax figure in a cradle from the
chapel across the church and down to the Grotto of the Nativity, where he lays it on the
slab that marks the supposed spot of the birth, and wraps it in strips of swaddling clothes,
while the Gospel history of the wondrous event is being read. The procession, with the
Patriarch and Consul, after a while return to the Latin Chapel, when high mass is again
performed, and the services continue until after sunrise.
The Christmas festivals—for the Greek and Latin celebrations are on different days, o.s.
and n.s. respectively—are to Bethlehem what the Easter ceremonies are to Jerusalem—the
main support of the industry and manufactures of the place, which depend upon the production and sale of pilgrim wares. At Christmas the harvest is reaped for which ever since last
Easter the Bethlehemite at home has been industriously preparing. Every one who has been
down to the Jordan and there bathed is considered to have completed his pilgrimage, and is
henceforth a palmer, entitled to wear the scallop-shell in his hat. The name " palmer " is
derived from the palm-branch (djereed) which in former days each pilgrim cut in the Valley