Gracious God! That royal edifice was once splendidly decked forth and fair. But there are spiders’ webs today, where hung the curtains of gold brocade, and where the king’s drums beat and his musicians played, the only sound is the harsh cries of kites and crows. “This is verily the capital of the owl’s realm, where thou wilt hear no sound, save only the echo of his repeated calls.” That is how the barracks were, when we came to Akká. There were a few trees inside the walls, and on their branches, as well as up on the battlements, the owls cried all night long. How disquieting is the hoot of an owl; how it saddens the heart.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful p. 16-17)
In London ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had an interview with a representative from the Weekly Budget. He spoke of His first summer in ‘Akka: ‘‘Akka is a fever-ridden town. It was said that a bird attempting to fly over it would drop dead. The food was poor and insufficient, the water was drawn from a fever-infected well and the climate and conditions were such, that even the natives of the town fell ill. Many soldiers succumbed and eight out of ten of our guard died. During the intense heat, malaria, typhoid and dysentery attacked the prisoners, so that all, men, women and children, were sick at one time. They were no doctors, no medicines, no proper food, and no treatment of any kind. ‘I used to make broth for people, as I had much practice, I make good broth,’ the Master testified laughingly.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 170)