You would have laughed to hear me buying a carpet. I saw an old broker with one on his shoulder in the bazaar, and asked the price, ‘eight napoleons’—then it was unfolded and spread in the street, to the great inconvenience of passers-by, just in front of a coffee-shop. I look at it superciliously, and say, ‘Three hundred piastres, O uncle,’ the poor old broker cries out in despair to the men sitting outside the coffee-shop: ‘O Muslims, hear that and look at this excellent carpet. Three hundred piastres! By the faith, it is worth two thousand!’ But the men take my part and one mildly says: ‘I wonder that an old man as thou art should tell us that this lady, who is a traveller and a person of experience, values it at three hundred—thinkest thou we will give thee more?’ Then another suggests that if the lady will consent to give four napoleons, he had better take them, and that settles it. Everybody gives an opinion here, and the price is fixed by a sort of improvised jury.
Lady Lucie Duff Gordon
Cairo, Egypt, 1863
Source: Lady Lucie Duff Gordon, Letters from Egypt, McClure, New York: Phillips & Co., 1902 (first pub. 1865)