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against them can have it put off indefinitely by the simple expedient of paying the magistrate's clerk to slip their paper under the bottom of the pile whenever it comes to the top. This is the most immaculate form of dishonesty for an Egyptian. The ghaffirs, who were there to keep order, sat in the dust with the litigants: it was the most comfortable seat. It is really rather uncivilised of European people, when they are dropping with tiredness, not to use the seat that Mother Earth has provided for them. This simplicity in the matter of accommodation allows the Arab to do everything at a
cut" price; a steamer which could not accommodate twenty English people for a voyage up the Nile could take two hundred Arabs, using the deck for beds and chairs. A luggage van makes a convenient railway carriage for them.
I always wondered why we saw any people at Karnak at all, considering the procession of its inhabitants which I saw coming into Luxor every morning-endless white-veiled sheikhs and black-veiled women on little donkeys without saddles or bridles; endless boys and young men munching sugar-cane; endless children who seemed to be playing their parts in a living fairy tale ; and the proper quantum of camels. They were either bringing in their produce or going to work, and were so delightfully unconscious and Oriental in their attitudes that every one of them was a kodaker's prize.
From Luxor to Damietta is a far cry. Most English people will find the hotels of Damietta too humorous. There are no obvious hotels at Damietta, but when at last we discovered one (which called itself the Hôtel de France, though it was a native inn kept by a woman who would not come out of her harem), the first thing we were informed was that we could not have anything to eat or drink. None of the relations who acted as servants could speak anything but Arabic. The utmost separation we could get between the sexes was a partition half-way up to the ceiling. But they had accessories such as enormous and filthy Arab slippers, a clothes-brush worn to the bone, with a comb stuck in it, and an old tooth-brush. The partitions were so small that the slippers took up nearly all the room which was not occupied
THE UNJUST STEWARD: THE JUDGE'S COPTIC CLERK,
By whom all the corruption of justice is managed in Egypt.
WOMEN MOURNING, This photo was taken at Luxor on the Day of the Conscription. The women are weeping because their sons have not been pronounced p. 123]
physically unfit to serve their country.
by the bed and the washing-stand; and light was almost as scarce, for the windows were closely grated with meshrebiya work. The hygiene of that hotel was one of the dark spots of the earth. Our shifts for food must come into the chapter on Damietta.
The Fayum hotels had humours of their own. At the first one we tried to go to in Medinet Fayum, the hotel boots who took us round and could speak Italian, refused to let us contemplate staying there. He said, “ It wouldn't do for you. The insects alone---" That was sufficient, though its arrangements interested me, for it consisted of a square hall which served all purposes except sleeping, with a gallery round it, and a staircase wandering up one side. The bedrooms opened off the gallery, and the kitchens and so on off the ground floor-an excellent arrangement for a seaside bungalow. Then we struck the principal hotel, described above, except that I forgot to say that the residents took their meals in the billiard-room, divided from the kitchen by the bar. Foreigners, when there were any, had their meals in one of the bedrooms.
But this hotel had an original and fascinating annex on the shores of Lake Kurun, which involved an hour or so by train, and an hour or two's drive at the end of it. There you slept in tents or native huts, and dined in the upper part of a twostoreyed marquee, of which the bottom part was of substantial wood-work in case the lake suddenly rose, when I suppose the tents and the huts would float away, and the staff take refuge in the dining-room till they could be boated away. It looked as if it ought to be a good place for fishing and duckshooting, though there were no sporting touts about. It also looked as if it might be in the centre of Africa, living in tents on a patch of lawn surrounded by reeds twenty feet high. This is an excellent place to send people to, whose great desire when they go to a foreign country is to find a place which has no buildings to distinguish it from the backwoods of Middlesex.
The sight of even an antique temple shocks them. They say it looks too civilised. It is nothing to them that the civilisation
broke off in a barbaric invasion of two thousand years ago. They attach a prairie value to sight-seeing.
I have purposely left Cairo to the end. We tried various hotels there. Two were pre-eminent for their humours.
One was kept by a German, who, as usual, was liberal with his food, and had good rooms in an excellent position, but who conducted his hotel with German indifference to refinement. I shall never forget coming down the first morning and discovering the leprous-looking Berberine who was under-waiter, besides being boots, cutting the bread into slices for breakfast. He was holding the loaf in hands white with his complaint, but restored to their original hue by dirt. It was winter-time, so we had the opportunity of learning that his real value lay in the skill with which he humoured the capricious gas of Cairo. The other Arab waiter was quite a good one, but he was generally in prison. We had a succession of excellent Swiss waiters. The proprietor's advertisements must have been very well-worded; they all came for a week's trial, and left at the end of the week to go to some place like the Savoy. We found one of them secondin-command of the servants of the Cataract Hotel when we got there. The leprous-looking man was also doorkeeper ; there was a good staircase for him to sleep under there. We were on the verge of going to another hotel of the same primeval class, but were warned off by a friendly dragoman, who told us that we could not go there because it was full of Englishmen's darlings.
There was another hotel in Cairo to which we went, where the rooms and the food were excellent, but the upstairs service was whimsical. We mostly fell into the hands of a Berberine named Mohammed. Like many Berberines, he could be a good servant ; like most of them, he was full of bad tricks. He was quite unable to leave machinery alone. He turned the handles of your kodaks, wasting the unborn films, and put the typewriter out of gear. This was too much. Having recently had a successful battle with a typewriter agent who wished to charge me twenty-five shillings for putting in a new main-spring, I told the proprietor that he must have it put