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his belly, holding on to the very sloping side of the canal by his toes, while he had a long drink. The usual ferment of life was going on along the banks of the canal, which the train was following, freshened up a little by the splash a buffalo, led by a tiny girl, made when he tried to have a drink and fell in. He liked it so much that he would not come out again, and of course a child of four could not make him. We saw the whole comedy, because our engine was suffering from hot boxes, a common complaint in Egypt. I might have been vexed at the delay if I had not looked out of the window on the other side, and seen the sky-line of a splendid Arab city broken by many minaretssuch a fantastic outline—the Mansura of St. Louis. Mansura, which means The Victorious, received its name from the defeat of the Crusaders here in 1221 while it was being erected as a base for the siege of Damietta, about fifty miles away. The Crusaders were defeated here again twentyeight years afterwards, when their feet was destroyed, and their army, including St. Louis, had to surrender. The house in which St. Louis was imprisoned is still shown.

As we went into Mansura station we passed two delightful little saints' tombs with bulbous domes like the Kremlin. We had another long wait at Mansura, with fresh opportunities of observing the humours of Egyptian railway travel. There was, though it was a very hot day, a gorgeous Egyptian wearing a red-lined Raleigh cape with a heavy astrachan collar, striking an attitude on the platform. I got out to have a closer look at him, and with the treacherous intention of kodaking him, if I could manage it without his noticing. While I was waiting I looked into the door, which was open, of the first-class carriage reserved for ladies. Egyptians have a genius for looking idiotic. The ladies were all sitting on the floor; babies were lying about the seats, being sick as they liked. Right in the middle of the platform a man was squatting down proudly beside a miscellaneous lot of luggage, including articles which are always kept out of sight in England. The police in all these country stations carry rifles.

After Mansura we had no station of sufficient importance to have tarbooshed people. There was nothing above the rank of a galabeah, and few galabeahs troubled to wind a turban round their skull-caps, though some had the mange.

I hope that the inhabitants of the Delta do themselves an injustice by their appearance. I never saw so many pock-marked, one-eyed stage-villains. But we soon forgot them, for we were getting into the wilder scenery of the coast Delta-brown seaflats with here a saint's tomb, there a farm on a knoll with a few palm-trees round it, very dry-looking country; and it must have been dry, because we saw here the best mirage we had ever seen in Egypt, with grand pink clouds playing over it, and a white mosque with a tall minaret.

As the train drew still nearer to the sea, the scenery assumed a fresh charm; little cities with their mosques and palm groves stood out in silhouette across the Aats. We had plenty of opportunity of seeing their points, because our train was always reversing. It did not seem sure which way it wanted to go. And so we drew in to Damietta, a city enshrined in enchanting palm groves.

CHAPTER XXI

Damietta

DA

AMIETTA is a town of forty-three thousand inhabi

tants, which has never seen a picturesque postcard. It is too poor even to have an Italian living there. The Governor of Damietta said that no one had ever been there sight-seeing before, except a man from Assuan who wanted to see rain, and heard that they had it at Damietta. It looks like Venice must have looked in the pre-Ruskin days, before it began to take a pride in its personal appearance. Damietta is called the Venice of Egypt, and the title fits it better than any of the other towns described as Venices which I have seen.

Osaka used to call itself the Venice of the East, but several miles of it have been burnt down. It had better claims than its rivals in Japan and China which I visited. But Damietta really is like Venice, the Venice of the Grand Canal, which is what most people mean when they say Venice. Damietta stands on one side of the Nile and its railway station on the other. Of course there is no bridge. Bridges on the Nile are as scarce as horses in Venice; and as foreigners are almost unknown, the boatmen have a free fight for them when they do come. In our case the railway guard arrogated the rights of patronage, and chose the gyassa, which was to have the honour of ferrying us and our baggage across for the sum of sevenpence halfpenny-three piastres. For this it sailed us to the

quay

of the Governor's palace. We were more or less flung on board, and the other gyassas raced us and barged into us all the way. But the mass of sails made such good photographs that we forgave them.

[graphic]

THE CITY OF DAMIETTA ON THE NILE, Which reminds one of the Grand Canal at Venice, and has old palaces in the Venetian style.

(p. 194

[graphic]

DAMIETTA.
A mosque, a saint's tomb, and houses hidden behind the stacks of palm leaves, with which the famous basket-weaving industry

of Damietta is carried on.

p. 195]

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