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eons. <fcc.,—even a turkey; and food is worth money now, not as it used to be (e, g.. butter is three shillings a pound). I am quite weary, too, of hearing. 'Of all the Frangee, I never saw one like thec!' Was no one ever at all humane before? For, remember, I give no money, only a little physic and civility." (pp. 363, 354.)
The story of Er-Rasheedee, here alluded to, illustrates our point. He was an old dragoman, left at Thebes, by his employer (who was wealthy and traveled with a doctor) because he fell ill; and paid his bare wages, with six pounds to take him back to Cairo. The authoress received him into her house. A little later, she writes:
"I have left my letter a long while. You will not wonder, for after some ten days' fever my poor guest, Mohammad Er-Rasheedee, died to-day. Two Prussian doctors gave me help for the last four days, but went last night. He sank to sleep quietly at noon, with his hand in mine. A good old Muslim sat at his head on one side, and I on the other. Omar stood at his head, and his black slave-boy Kheyr, at his feet. We had laid his face towards the Kiblek, and I spoke to him to see if he were conscious, and when he nodded, the three Muslims chanted the Islamee, 'La Ila,' &c, &c., till I closed his eyes. The 'respectable men' came in by degrees, took an inventory of his property, which they delivered to me, and washed the body; and within an hour and a half we all went out to the burial-place; I following among a troop of women who joined us, to wail for 'the brother who had died far from bis place.' The scene, as we turned in between the broken colossi and pylones of the temple to go to the mosque, was overpowering. After the prayer in the mosque we went out to the graveyard,—Muslims and Copts helping to carry the dead, and my Prankish hat in the midst of the veiled women; all so familiar and yet so strange!
"After the burial »he Imam, Sheykh Abd-elWaris, came and kissed rne on the shoulders; and the Shereef, a man of eighty, laid his hands on my shoulders and said :—' Fear not, my daughter, neither all the days of thy life, nor at the hour of thy death, for God leadeth thee in the right way (sirat mustakeem)." I kissed the old man's hand, and turned to go, but numbers of men came and said, 'a thousand thanks, O our sister, for what thou hast done for one among us!' and a great deal more. Now the solemn chanting of the Fikees, and the clear voice of the boy reciting the Koran in the room where the man died, are ringing through the house. They will pass the night in prayer, and to-morrow there will be the prayer of deliverance in the mosque. Poor Kheyr has just crept in here
for a quiet cry. Poor boy! he is in the inventory, and to-morrow I must deliver him up to ' let autoritca,' to be forwarded to Cairo, with the rest of the property. He is very ugly with his black face wet and swollen, but he kisses my hand and calls me his mother, 'quite natural like.' You see color is no barrier between human beings here." (pp. 327, 328.)
In kindly companionship with this pathetic narrative is the picture of a young Englishman's burial. He
"was buried on the first day of Ramadan, in the place where they bury strangers, on the site of a former Coptic church. Archdeacon Moore read the service; Omar and I spread my flag over the bier, and Copts and Muslims helped to carry the poor stranger.
"It was a most impressive sight: the party of Europeans—all strangers to the dead, but all deeply moved; the group of black-robed and turbaned Copls, the sailors from the boats, the gaily dressed dragomans, several brownshirted Fellaheen, and the thick crowd of children—all the little Abab'deh stark naked, and all behaving so well; the expression on their little faces touched me most of all. Aa Muslims, Omar and the boatmen laid him down in the grave; while the English prayer was read the sun went down in a glorious flood of light over the distant bend of the Nile. 'Had he a mother? he was young!' said an Abab'deh woman to me, with tears in her eyes, and pressing my hand in sympathy for that poor far-oft' mother of such a different race." (pp. 331, 332.)
We must let the authoress say one word more "of prejudice," and then pass on to more pleasing topics illustrative of life in the East:
"A curious instance of the affinity of the British mind for prejudice is the way in which every Englishman I have seen scorns the Eastern Christians; and it is droll enough, that sinners like Mr. Kinglake and me should be the only people to feel the tie of ' the common faith ' (title 'Eothen'). A very pious Scotch gentleman wondered that I could think of entering a Copt's house, adding, that they were the publicans (tax-gatherers) of this country,—which is true. I felt inclined to mention that better company than he or I had dined with publicans, and even sinners. The Copts are evidently the ancient Egyptians,—the slightly aquiline nose and long eye are the very same as those in the profiles on the tombs and temples, and also like the very earliest Byzantine pictures. Du rate, the face is handsome, but generally sallow and rather inclined to puffness, and the figure wants the grace of the Arab; nor has any Copt the thorough-bred distingue look of the meanest man or woman of good Arab blood. Their feet are the long-toed, flattish foot of the Egyptian statue, while the Arab foot is classically perfect, and you could put your hand under the instep. The beauty of the Abab'deh, black, naked, and shaggy-haired, is quite marvelous; I never saw such delicate limbs and features, or such eyes and teeth." (pp. 59, 60.)
Lady Mary Wortley Montague said, in one of her Letters, that if it were the fashion to go naked, the face would be hardly observed. True, above all other countries, of Egypt and Nubia, where, save the mark, the faces are generally ugly. The figures of the girls, the exquisite forms of their arms and hands and feet, are such as are rarely to be seen in Europe—were costume to allow of their display:
"It is worth while going to Nubia to see the girls. Up to twelve or thirteen, they are neatly dressed in a bead necklace, and a leather fringe, four inches wide, round their loins; and anything so absolutely perfect as their shapes, or so sweetly innocent as they look, can not be conceived. The women are dressed in drapery, like Greek statues, and their forms are as perfect; they have hard, bold faces, but very handsome hair, plaited like the Egyptian sculptures and soaked with castor-oil. The color of the skin is rich sepiabrown, as of velvet with the pile; very dark, and the red blood glowing through it,—unlike negro color in any degree. My pilot's little girl came in the dress mentioned above, carrying a present of cooked fish on her head, and some fresh eggs; she was four years old, and so clever! I gave her captain's biscuit and some figs; and the little pet sat with her little legs tucked under her, and ate it so daintily; she was very long over it, and when she had done, she carefully wrapped up some more biscuit in a little rag of a veil, to take home. I longed to steal her, she was such a darling. One girl of thirteen was so lovely, that even the greatest prude must, I think, have forgiven her sweet, pure beauty." (pp. 52, 53.)
Her Theban home the authoress loves best, and from it she writes most. She was fortunate in dwelling among the people of the villages that dot the site of the City of a Hundred Gates. They boast their Arabian descent, and retain much of the courage, magnanimity, and hospitality attributed to the high-born Arab. Exposed to frequent raids from the adjacent deserts, they have maintained their warlike powers by too com
mon feuds among themselves, and thus, while it has been not unusual for a blood feud to exist between El-Uksur and ElGurneh, they have at least preserved themselves from the degeneracy of the Fellah of Middle and Lower Egypt. And they have been fortunate in their early association with Europeans. The names of many of the golden age of Nile travelers, before "tourists" were known, are remembered among them as household words.
The most interesting of these Letters are certainly those written from this place during the authoress's long residence there, from January to October, 1864, when she remained among the people long after the last Frank boat had turned down stream, and during all the burning summer. She had before visited the place in 1862, and after attempting to live in more northern latitudes, was driven southwards again by the state of her health. Her frank style and her pictorial power enable her readers to live with her over again those Theban nine months. We must content ourselves here with introducing her sketch of her quarters, and with an illustration taken here and there from the many pages that follow descriptive of daily life among the Egyptians.
"I have such a big, rambling house," she says, "all over the top of the temple of Khem; how I wish I had you and the children to fill it! We had twenty Fellahs to clean the dust of three years' accumulation, and my room looks quite handsome with carpets and a divan. . . The view all round my house is magnificent on every side; across the Nile in front, facing N. W., and oyer a splendid expanse of green and a range of distant orange-buff hills to the S. E., where I have a spacious covered terrace. It is rough and dusty in the extreme, but it will be very pleasant. . . . The house is very large, it has good thick walls, the comfort of which we feel to-day, for it blows a hurricane, but in-doon it is not at all cold. I have glass windows and doors to some of the rooms; it is a lovely dwelling. Two funny little owls, as big as my fist, live in the wall under my window, and come and peep in, walking on tiptoe and looking inquisitive, like the owls in the hieroglyphics, and barking at me like young puppies; and a splendid horns (the sacred hawk) frequents my lofty balcony. Another of my contemplar gods I sacrilegiously killed last night—a whip snake. Omar is rather in consternation, for fear* it should be 'the snake of the house;' for Islam has not dethroned the 'Dii Lares et tutelares.'"
In this rough Oriental dwelling, the authoress settled down to get health, and learn Arabic under the guidance of one Sheykh Yoosuf, who, in common with his fellow-villagers, did his best to help her to pass her otherwise lonely banishment. The climate of Thebes, until the hot winds commenced, seems to have suited her complaint, and though she writes occasionally now of cold and now of heat, she was almost daily riding about the plain. Here are two thoroughly Eastern sketches:
"We have had a week of piercing winds, and I have been obliged to stay in bed. Today was fine again, and I mounted old Mustafa's cob pony and jogged over his farm with him, and lunched on delicious sour cream and fateereh at a neighboring village, to the great delight of the fellaheen. It was more biblical than ever; the people were all relations of Mustafa's, aud to see Seedee Omar, the head of the household, and the young men coming in from the field, and the flocks and herds and camels and asses, was like a beautiful dream. All these people are of good blood, and a sort of 'roll of Battle' is kept for the genealogies of the noble Arabs who came in with Anir, the first Arab conqueror and lieutenant of Omar. Not one of these brown men who do not own a second shirt, would give his brown daughter to the greatest Turkish Pasha.' (pp. 107, 168.)
"Yesterday, I rode over to Karnac with Mustafa's Sais running by my side! glorious hot sun and delicious air. To hear the Sais chatter away, his tongue running as fast as his feet, made me deeply envious of his lungs. Mustafa joined me, and pressed me to go to visit the sheykh's tomb, for the benefit of my health, as he and Sheykh Yoosuf wished to say a Fat'hah for me; but I must not drink wine that day. I made a little difficulty on the score of difference of religion, but Sheykh Yoosuf, who came up, said he presumed I worshiped God, aud not stones, and that sincere prayers were good anywhere. Clearly the bigotry would have been on my side if I had refused any longer, so in the evening I went with Mustafa.
"It was a very curious sight: the little dome illuminated with as much oil as the mosque could afford, over the tombs of Abu1-Hajjiij and his three sons. A magnificent old man, like Father Abraham himself, dressed in white, sat on a carpet at the foot of the tomb; he was the head of the family of Abu1-Hajjiij. He made me sit by him, and was extremely polite. Then came the Nsizir, the Kiidee, a Turk traveling on government busi
ness, and a few other gentlemen, who all sat down round us, after kissing the hand of the old sheykh. Every one talked; in fact, it was a soiree in honor of the dead sheykh. A party of men sat at the further end of the place, with their faces to the kibleh, and played on a darabukkeh (sort of small drum stretched over an earthen-ware funnel, which gives a peculiar sound), a tamborine without bells, and little tinkling cymbals (seggal), fitting on thumb and finger (crotales), and chanted songs in honor of Mohammad, and verses from the Psalms of David. Every now and then, one of our party left off talking, and prayed a little, or counted his beads. The old sheykh sent for coffee and gave me the first cup,—a wonderful concession; at last, the Niizir proposed a Fat'hah for me, which the whole group round me repeated aloud, and then each said to me:—' Our Lord God bless the, and give thee health and peace, to thee and thy family, and take thee back safe to thy master and thy children;' every one adding, 'Ameen' and giving the salam with the hand. I returned it and said, 'Our Lord reward thee and all people of kindness to strangers,' which was considered a very proper answer." (pp. 169-71.)
And here is a pen-and-ink portrait of Sheykh Yoosuf:
"I want to photograph Yoosuf for you' the feelings and prejudices and ideas of a cuT tivated Arab, as I get at them little by little' are curious beyond compare. It won't do to generalize from one man, of course, but even one gives some very new ideas. The most striking thing is the sweetness aud delicacy of feeling, the horror of hurting any one (this must be individual, of course; it is too good to be general). I apologized to him two days ago for inadvertently answering the 'Salam aleykum,' which he, of course, said to Omar on coining in, and which is sacramental to Muslims. Yoosuf blushed crimson, touched my hand and kissed his own, and looked quite unhappy.
"Yesterday evening he walked in, and startled me by a'Salam aleykee,'addressed to me; he had evidently been thinking it over, —whether he ought to say it to me, and came to the conclusion that it was not wrong; 'Surely it is well for all the creatures of God to speak peace (Saldm) to each other,' said he. Now, no uneducated Muslim would have arrived at such a conclusion. Omar would pray, work, lie, do anything for me,—sacrifice money even; but I doubt whether he could utter 'Saliim aleykum' to any but a Muslim. I answered as I felt,—'Peace, O my brother, and God bless thee!' It was almost as if a Catholic priest had felt impelled by charity to offer the communion to a heretic.
'His wife died two years ago, and six months ago he married again a wife twelve years old! (Sheykh Yoosuf Is thirty, he tells us; he looks twenty-two.) What a stepmother, and what a wife! He can repeat the whole Koran without book; it takes twelve hours to do it. He has read the Towrat (tho Old Testament), and the Gospels (el Engeel), of course. 'Every Alhn should read them: the words of Seyyidna Eesa are the true faith: but Christians have altered and corrupted their meaning. So we Muslims, believe. We are all the children of God.' (I ask, if Muslims call themselves so, or only the slaves of God ?) 'It is all one—children or slaves. Does not a good man cure for both tenderly alike?' (Pray observe the Oriental feeling here. Slave is a term of affection, not contempt; and remember the Centurion's tenant (slave), whom he loved.'" (pp. 2<H-7.)
The following bit of Oriental character, illustrating as it does their notions about Frank women, is delightful. It reads like a scrap from "Hajji Baba in England:"
"I heard Seleem Efendi and Omar discussing English ladies one day lately, while I was inside the curtain with Seleem's slave-girl, and they did not know I beard them. Omar
described J , and was of opinion that a
man who was married to her could want nothing more. 'By my soul, she rides like a Bedawte, she shoots with a gun and pistol, rows the boat; she knows many languages and what is in their books; works with the needle like an Efreet, and to see her hands run over the teeth of the music-box (keys of the piano) amazes the mind, while her singing gladdens the soul. How, then, should her husband ever desire the coffee-shop? Wallahee! she can always amuse him at home. And as to my lady, the thing is not that she does not know. When I feel my stomach tightened, I go to the divan and say to her, 'Do you want anything—a pipe or. sherbet or so-and-so?' and I talk till she lays down her book and talks to me, and I question her and amuse my mind; and, By God! if I were a rich man and could marry one English hiircem like these, I would stand before her and serve her like her memlook. You see I am only this lady's servant, and I have not once sat in the collee-shop, because of the sweetness of her tongue. Is it not true, therefore, that the man who can marry such hareem is rich more than with money?'
'Seleem seemed disposed to think a little more of good looks, though he quite agreed with all Omar's enthusiasm, and asked if
J were beautiful. Omar, answered, with
decorous vagueness, that she was a 'moon;' but declined mentioning her hair, eyes, &c. (It is a liberty to describe a woman minutely.) I nearly laughed out at hearing Omar relate
his manoeuvres to make me' amuse his mind.' It seems I am in no danger of being discharged for being dull." (pp. 230-32.)
Again she returns to the never-failing subject of her home, the view from its verandah, and the scenes encountered in daily rides. It is later now in the spring and the hot winds are commencing:
'' The weather has set in so hot that I have shifted my quarters out of my fine room to the south-west, into a room with only three sides, looking over a lovely green view to the north-east, and with a huge sort of solid verandah, as large as the room itself, oil the open side; thus I live in the open air altogether. The bats and swallows are quite sociable; I hope the serpents and scorpions will be more reserved. 'El-Khamaseen' (the fifty days) has begun and the wind is enough to mix up heaven and earth but it is not distressing, like tho Cape south-easter, and though hot, not choking like the khamaseen in Cairo and Alexandria. Mohammad brought me some of the new wheat just now. Think of harvest in March and April! These winds are as good for the crops here as a 'nice steady rain' is in England. It is not necessary to water as much when the wind blows strong.
"As I rode through the green fields along the dyke, a little boy sang, as he turned round on the musically-creaking Sakiyeh (the water-wheel turned by an ox), the one eternal Sakiyeh tune. The words are ad libitum, and my little friend chanted: "Turn, O Sakiyeh, to the right, and turn to the left: who will take care of me if niy father dies? Turn, O Sakiyeh, &c. Pour water for the figs and the grapes, and for the water-melons. Turn.' &c. &c. Nothing is so pathetic as that Sakiyeh song.
"I passed the house of the Sheykh-elAbab'dch, who called out to me to take coffee. The moon rose splendid, and the scene was lovely: the handsome black-brown slieykh in dark robes and white turban, Omar in a graceful white gown and red turbau, the wild Abab'deh with their bare heads and long bUck ringlets, clad in all manner of dingy white rags, and bearing every kind of uncouth weapon in every kind of wild and graceful attitude, and a few little brown children quite naked, and shaped like Cupids." (pp. 232-4.)
And this was the life for the whole of that long hot summer, now among the harvesting, then, the black tents of the Abab'deh (a fine race frequenting the great Eastern desert between the Nile and the Red Sea), diversified by a case of theft and a sentence of condign punishment (banishment for life), if the authoress bad not begged for its remission.; afterwards, in the midst of sickness when she was doctor, nurse, and all; the murrain; and the "insurrection" that ended so bloodily. The bill of health for Saturday, April the 23d, is worth preserving:
"Happily the sickness is going off. I have just heard Suleyman's report as follows: Hnsan Aboo-Ahmad kisses the Emeereh's feet, and the bullets have cleaned his stomach, and he has said the Fat'hah for the lady. The two little girls who had diarrhoea are well. The Christian dyer has vomited his powder, and wants another. The mother of the Christian cook who married the priest's sister has pot dysentery. The Hareem of Mustafa AbooObeyd has two children with bad eyes. The Bishop had a quarrel, and scolded and fell down, and can not speak or move; I mnst go to him. The young deacon's jaundice is better. The slave-girl of Khurshced Agha is sick, and Khursheed is sitting at her head, in tears, the women say I must go to her too. Khnrsheed is a flue young Circassian, and very good to his hareem." (p. 263.)
Invalids may note that while the climate of Thebes was found, as we have said, healthful in the cooler months, it was, during the summer, distressingly dry; with frequent parching winds, and almost insupportable dust. It is not likely, however, that many would try so formidable an experiment as spending a summer, alone and out of health, five hundred miles from the outpost of European society, Cairo.
But the authoress did not stay all her time at Thebes, where we have lingered with her perhaps too long. Some of her sketches of Cairo and the Cairenes we are much tempted to extract, were it only for the gratification of those of our readers who know that wonderful city well. They read like Lewis's pictures done into words, and, like those marvelous works, make it difficult to realize the squalor of the poor, and the ruinous state of the city. Cairo looks beautiful even in its melancholy decay, and the people picturesque though clad in rags; but, truth, to say, the authoress must have seen both under favorable circumstances:
"Our street and our neighbors would divert you. Opposite lives a Christian dyer, who must be a seventh brother of the admirable Barber; he has the same impertinence, loquacity, and love of meddling with everybody's business. I long to see him thrashed, though he is a constant comedy. The Arabs
! next door, and the Levantines opposite, are : quiet enough; but how do they eat all the 1 cucumbers they buy of the man who criea i them every morning as "fruit gathered by sweet girls in the garden with the early dew?' "As to the beauty of Cairo, that no words can describe : the oldest European towns are tame and regular in comparison; and the people are so pleasant. If you smile at anything that amuses you, you get the kindest, brightest smiles in return; they give hospitality with their faces, and if one brings out a few words, 'Masha-allah! what Arabic the Silt Inkeleezeeyeh speaks!' ....
"If you have any power over any artist, send him to paint here; no words can describe either the picturesque beauty of Cairo or the splendid forms of the people in Upper Egypt, and, above all, in Nubia. I was in raptures at seeing how superb an animal (man and woman) really is; my donkey-girl at Thebes, dressed like a Greek statue, 'Ward esh-Sham' (the rose of Syria) was a feast to the eyes. And here too, what grace and sweetness! and how good is a drink of Nile water out of an amphora held to your lips by a woman as graceful as she is kindly!' May it benefit thee!' she says, smiling with her beautiful teeth and eyes.
"The days of the beauty of Cairo are numbered: the superb mosques are falling to decay, the exquisite lattice windows are rotting , away and replaced by European glass and 1 jalousies; only the people and the government remain unchanged." (pp. 83-7) . .
"There is a quarrel now in the street; how they talk and gesticulate, and everybody puts in a word! A boy has upset a cakeseller's tray. 'Nal-abook !' (curse your father!) he claims six piastres damages, and every ; one gives an opinion, pro or contra. We all look out of the windows. My opposite neighbor, the pretty Armenian woman, leans out (baby sucking all the time), and her diamond head-ornaments and ear-rings glitter as she laughs like a child. The Christian dyer is also very active in the row, which, like all Arab rows, ends in nothing,—it evaporates in fine theatrical gestures and lots of talk. Curious! hi the street they are so noisy; and set the same men down in a coffee-shop, or anywhere, and they are the quietest of mankind. Only one man speaks at a time,—the rest listen and never interrupt; twenty men do ! not make the noise of three Europeans." (pp. 102, 103.)
Lady Duff Gordon's popularity with the Copt's enabled her to obtain many glimpses of a people who are singularly shy of contact with Europeans, and of whom little is known even by those who are learned in all the wisdom of Egypt. We must refer the curious in such matters to her book. She has also much to