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right. He had witnessed the battle and felt shy of typewriter agents. He said there was an Armenian gentleman in the house who understood typewriters. Might he look at the machine and see if it was necessary to send for the agent? Of course I acquiesced. He put it right with the skill of an operator. I asked him how he knew about it.
"I am an importer," he said. “I must have imported and sold twenty-five of these machines—the Williams-SOI make a point of understanding them.”
He was, I learned, one of the principal merchants of Cairo. Mohammed had many minor faults. My wife caught him wiping the washstand with her fine face sponge, and I found him polishing the floor with the Wren's paste I had given him for cleaning my brown boots, because it gave him less trouble than beeswax. He was finally sent away for twisting the Austrian chambermaid's hands behind her and almost dislocating her right arm. He had up to this contented himself with pinching her when she would not do his work for him. Yet he was a pleasant boy when you called him to do anything for you under your own eye. Berberines are, I fear, guileful.
The Egyptian climate is conducive to indolence in servants. I had three packing-cases which I wished to be kept dry for sending some of my curios home. I asked Mohammed when I arrived at the hotel to put them down in the basement of another part of the hotel. He put them in the garden behind the fence, because it was less trouble, and they were there still, with the ichneumons hunting rats over them, when I asked for them three months afterwards. But the climate is so dry that they had not suffered—I could almost have left the tall silk hat I bought for calling on the Khedive out in the garden. When I was going away the head Arab waiter expressed a great desire to have this hat as he learned that I was not going to take it back to England. I did not suppose he was going to call on the Khedive. I wondered if he was going to wear it at the Shem-en-Neseem bank holiday, or merely going to hire it out to Englishmen who wished to call on the Khedive and had not brought a hat
with them. I gave him a highly checked golfing suit at the same time, and hoped that he would wear them together. He was an admirable servant-head-waiter in the season and chef in the off-season. He gave me a great deal of advice
At the great hotels there are humours under the surface, but the general impression is one of much dignity and smart
There is always a row of smart dragomans standing or sitting outside ; there is a grand person in a short bolero and wide breeches of fine-faced cloth, generally scarlet, with a gold-laced waistcoat to match, who sees people into their carriages ; there are two very smart-looking boys dressed in scarlet and white, like the waiters, who dust the boots of every one who comes into the hotel with ostrich-feather brooms; there is a large German porter in an appropriate uniform, who can answer questions in any of the chief languages; and inside there are a swarm of clean, well-setup, good-looking Arab or Berberine waiters in spotless white gowns, with scarlet slippers, sashes, and tarbooshes, who have charming manners and glide about like ghosts. The entrances to these hotels are generally more or less Oriental in their decorations. Two or three of them have charming suites of Arab halls. They are softly and richly carpeted; they have fine ball-rooms, in which they give dances for their visitors, and those of the other chief hotels, once or twice a week ; their meals are luxurious, if not always successful ; everything is done in a first-class way. The prices are also firstclass. On paper, spending the season at Cairo means spending it at one of these hotels, but they are deficient in humours; they are all right for people who go to Cairo for the season, but those who go to Cairo to see Egypt will see more in proportion as they get nearer to the Esbekiya.
The Egyptian's Idea of Serving His Country
N the old days, when the Mahdi was depopulating the I
Sudan (so effectively, that, instead of having over eight million people living in it, as there were before the invasion, there were less than two millions after the collapse of Mahdism), no Egyptian who was recruited for the army ever expected to see his home again. Service mostly meant service in the Sudan, and being slaughtered or led into captivity by the Mahdi.
In country Egypt traditions die hard. Barely five per cent. of the population can read, and the men who bring news from the newspapers to the fellahin are mostly agitators who wish to represent the Government and all its works in the worst possible light; therefore the fool of a fellah is allowed to think that the Mahdi is still tyrannising over the Sudan, and that he will be sent there to be devoured.
Also, to the country Egyptians it has, until lately, been almost like death to be separated from their relations at all. The consequence is that the conscription has been dreaded much worse than an epidemic of cholera. We saw evidence of this at Luxor on the day we arrived down from the Sudan, where military service was quite popular. We were riding out to Karnak, intending to work hard in making its stupendous ruins tally with our various guide-books, which was probably impossible, when we found our way blocked by hundreds of weeping women, and men too. They were crowding round the office of the Mamur, and, at intervals of a few minutes, were being broken up and driven off by footpolice and horse-police, armed with canes and courbashes. The Mamuriya of Luxor is a low building, surrounded by
broad sandy roads bordered with shady trees. Such of the crowd as were not trying to force their way into the Mamur were squatting in the dust, weeping, and wailing, and gnashing their teeth. “ What is this?" I asked a donkey-boy. “Sir, it is taking our young men for the army.” “But why are they howling?" "Because the young men will not be able to stay in their homes when they are with the army."
The population was wildly excited. So often as they were driven back they crowded in again towards the steps of the Mamuriya. They were evidently waiting for some one to come out. The first thing that came out was a boy about eighteen, stark naked. He was so excited about getting out that he had forgotten his clothes, such as they were. The police smacked his head and drove him back. When he re-emerged, he had not got more than three yards from the steps before several men ran forward and literally fell on his neck to kiss him. They were so elated at his not having to serve his country. He rejoiced positively, and they rejoiced in the Mamur's declaration that he was physically unfit. Presently another man came out carrying a paper which showed that he was considered fit. The whole assemblage burst out into such wails that the police began arresting them, and taking them into the Mamuriya, until it would not hold any more, when they rode over them and hit them on the faces with sticks instead. It seemed brutal; but an American missionary said that the police understood them better than we did. He may have been embittered by experience. But the impression remained. The men were crying as well as the women ; but I suppose things were not very serious, because the ghaffirs, who had been drafted in from the various villages to help the police in case it was necessary, were sitting on the ground mixed up with the mourners, and being ridden over by the police with the rest. The Egyptian policeman when he is excited takes very active measures with natives.
The ghaffirs, or watchmen, the people whose disappearance is the signal for danger, some of them armed with guns and some with quarter-staves, were dressed in brown like
dervishes, and wore pale brown tarbooshes, with bands of various colours according to their districts. Ghaffirs are nice men, but quite useless except as guides. I think the fellaheen boys must have thought that the Mamur would steal their clothes, for most of them came with so very little—a sort of night-shirt and a white skull-cap. At first it was highly interesting to see these boys running the gauntlet of the police out of the Mamuriya, and being received by their relatives. I say running the gauntlet, because none of them walked down the steps—they all bolted like rabbits, and the police Alicked at them with their whips or canes, not to hurt them-a mere ebullition of amusement.
It was a really pretty and patriarchal sight to see a boy, pronounced unfit for service, being embraced by his relatives. The men especially kissed him charmingly. Their eloquent Egyptian eyes were brimming over with feeling ; tears of gladness were often raining down their cheeks. I thought of Jacob when he got Benjamin back again, and those other inimitable pictures of parental affection in the Bible. I thought of the Prodigal Son.
But the reverse side of the shield did not reflect pleasantly. These boys were not going to suffer any injury; in serving their country they were going to be better housed and better clothed than they were at home. They were going to be made into fine men and smart soldiers; they were going to see the world, and there was hardly any chance of their having to do any fighting, unless there was a Nationalist riot, or they were sent to punish the desert people for some outrage.
It was natural that their mothers and even their fathers, thinking as they did, and being Egyptians, should give way to paroxysms of mourning. But the boys themselves ought to have felt ashamed, for often when they reached their parents, though they were eighteen years of age, they stood there and bellowed. There were exceptions, certainly, and they were the best-looking boys in physique and class. Some of them remained firm, and begged their parents not to weep, because it was no misfortune, but a duty to their