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which runs round three sides of the building was built by Ptolemy Auletes, the father of our Cleopatra. Various Roman emperors, like Tiberius and Vespasian, contributed to its decoration, and on the south side a small chapel was dedicated to the Greek goddess, Aphrodite, our Venus, in the seventh year of Domitian.
. The trail of the crocodile is over Komombo still ; one of its chambers, as I have said, is filled with mummy crocodiles ; and it was here that Lord Fitzhardinge, who stayed here for twenty winters, shot the last crocodile killed in Egypt-last but not least-it was sixteen feet long.
The vision of Komombo pursues you as you steam up the river to Assuan, only twenty-six miles south of it. The effect is wonderful. Its columns look so Greek and so golden.
Assuan, the City of the Idle Wealthy
SSUAN is the city of the idle wealthy, and the
Egyptians and Swiss who live on them. It is also the city of the ideal winter, where those, whose lungs are wrecks, can lengthen their lives. It is also the city of artists, where Nature uses the most daring colours in her compositions. That is Assuan proper, the Syene of the Ancients, the southern key of Egypt; her bulwark against the savages, who are as the sands of the desert in number in Africa's fiery heart.
But behind this Assuan of the Pharaoh, the Cæsar, and the Ottoman Sultan, has grown up another Assuan, the city of the great dam, which is more wonderful in its might than any of the monuments of Ancient Egypt, the Bank where the waters of the Nile are deposited like gold, and drawn on as daily needs require. Doubtless, at no distant time the whole plage of the Nile, from Assuan city to its dam, will be covered with dwellings, when Egypt has learned that artificial prices are incompatible with permanent prosperity.
If you want to live at Assuan moderately, you must live like a Greeka modern Greek; you must have your room, with very little service, in a modest establishment like the Hôtel de la Poste; and you must have your meals a la carte, taking only one or two dishes on the card, at a Greek restaurant. An artist friend of ours did it, and was as comfortable as any one need be in a climate like Assuan, where eternal summer reigns, and you go away directly it gets too hot. For the rest, unless you go to the pension kept by the sister of Neufeldt, the prisoner of the Khalifa,
you had better go to the best hotel—the difference of price is not great enough between going to a middle-class hotel and going to the Cataract Hotel, which is one of the most delightful in the world. They are all on the make, as Americans call it, and you get the best value at the best. There is no reason why things should be at the price they are. The dearness of Egypt is based on the false price of building land, and the false price of native labour. If there were a succession of cholera years or of first-class earthquakes, prices would come down with a run; the section of Egypt, which depends on visitors for a living would starve, until it attracted the notice of the cheap clientèle, which makes the fortunes of Swiss and Italian hotel-keepers; and the prices would never go up again. The Egyptian and Berberine servant's standard of living does not justify such wages. And the prices of building land are just as ridiculous.
As it is, life at the best hotels costs you a pound or twentyfive shillings a day without extras, and the only extra, which is moderate, is afternoon tea, with biscuits instead of bread-andbutter. The exactions of donkey-boys, however, are not encouraged--this is the drop in the bucket.
Assuan, like most other Nile towns, is all front as far as visitors are concerned. The shops and the minor hotels and the two necessary public buildings-the post-office and the police-court-form a sort of plage on the east bank, from the port to the Turkish castle; for Assuan has a port which, before the rise of the Mahdi in the Sudan, had a trade of two millions sterling a year, and only half of its castle is a sham, put up for visitors to give them some shade in the public gardens.
The railway station is the shadiest garden in Assuan ; it has a delightful palm coppice. The Savoy Hotel does not count, because that is on the Island of Elephantine, and there is no bridge. The western bank contains nothing but sand and tombs and Coptic ruins. Egypt, which practically consists of the banks of a river and the banks of a canal, is yet the worst-off place for bridges in the whole civilised world. It has about one to every three hundred miles, I don't know what the Pharaohs were doing. I