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Ranelagh teas as people trail in from the various games they have been playing, though the residents boastfully assert that it is not until after the tourists have gone that the real life begins at Ghezira. "Men and women in white, tandems, and motors (and, I suppose, scandals), just like an Indian station."
The Woes of the Egyptian Housekeeper
'HE Egyptian housekeeper would be grateful for a visit
from Mr. Jerome's magic lodger of the Third Floor Back, for she has half the trials of Job. To begin with, insects are still one of the plagues of Egypt; there is a little shaggy, black-and-tan'insect, about an eighth of an inch long, that eats everything under the sun which is not disturbed every day. It has to be surprised at its work like a burglar. In most countries ivory brushes are pretty safe from insects, in Egypt this little terror eats the ivory and eats the bristles ; it eats your toothbrush and eats your toothpick, it eats the wool with which you are going to mend your husband's socks—the cards as well as the wool ; it eats the handles off your knives and forks ; it rejects nothing but glass and china and metal.
When Agenorial first went to Egypt she took a complete set of furniture with her, stuffed with the best horse-hair. She noticed the chairs and sofas turning unaccountably limp, and was worried with the dust which seemed to come up through the coverings—everything was so engrained with it. It did come up through the coverings; at the close of the summer she took the covers off to have them cleaned, and then she found that the terror, which works in the darkness, had taken the nourishing juices out of the horsehair and reduced all her furniture stuffing to black dust.
This little nibbler, which makes your chair-cushion go flat, and send out dust like a hot-air pipe when you turn on the heat in an American bedroom, is not the only insect
| Mrs. Cromwell Rhodes.
trouble in Egypt. There are white ants in many parts—the most expeditious of all the devourers of your substance. I know a man who, when he went into his house up the river, found that they had eaten up his staircase, which collapsed the moment he put his foot on it. It is no wonder that concrete is the favourite material for floors-the ants have not shown any taste for that so far. I know another man who was out camping in Upper Egypt: his portmanteau took up such a lot of room in his tent that he put it outside till morning. He had not seen any white ants about, but in the morning, though his trunk looked all right, as it reposed on the ground in the sunshine of Egypt, it had no bottom. The white ant is not so well known in Cairo as the ant about half an inch long, which the servants call a Dervish. Flying ants, too, are prevalent to such an extent that people attack them with burning newspapers, which kill thousands at once. Of course it is impossible to leave any sugar or any other sweet stuff anywhere, in cupboards or out of them, unless it is surrounded by water. One can understand that: the odd thing is that if you cut your nails, and any of the parings fall on the floor, the ants will find them out in five minutes, or if you kill a beetle, or put pomatum on your hair. The only way to keep stores is to put them in boxes on tables whose feet rest in pans of petroleum, or whose legs are wrapped with rags soaked in petroleum.
Mosquitoes ? one takes for granted, though strangers grow I "The voice of the mosquitoe is still heard in the land and she is occupying general public attention. It is therefore a good time to write about her natural history. The mosquitoe, by the way, should always be spoken of as 'she,' because only the female mosquitoe drinks blood, and that is the only one we think about.
“Mosquitoes breed commonly in stagnant waters. Almost anything damp, however, will serve them. They have been found in numbers in a pubble (sic) of water eight inches square and one inch deep. Gutters and ditches in gardens are favourite places, and they have been known to breed in great numbers in the cellars of houses.
" Three or four weeks are required to perfect the change from the egg to the complete insect. The female carefully selects a place where there will be sufficient water to float them during that period.
" Finding some floating shred of straw, stick, or other support,' says a naturalist, 'the expectant mother rests her two forelegs on this, allows the nest
sometimes so swollen-headed over their bites that they have to stay in bed till they are inoculated. I knew a high English official in Egypt, a lean, spare man, who said he always took the fattest woman he could find in to supper at an entertainment, because the mosquitoes were sure to go to her. Mosquitoes are not the worst of the insect pests; they can be kept out by nets, but the sand-fiy, a kind of limpid midge, can get through the mesh of any mosquito net, and you can't see it. Much more painful and persevering is the Egyptian harvester; it may not be quite the same species as our harvester, but it does its work; it is minute and red, and it burrows under the skin, and, wherever it has been tunnelling, there is a hard lining with a very itchy surface.
Even more objectionable are the lice, which lie in wait like the snakes on the trees in Burma, and may lay a cuckoo's egg on the head of a duchess. You never know where you get them from, and they don't confine themselves to heads.
Dogs suffer even worse, for they get ticks, which cover pair gently to touch the water, and crosses the third pair behind to form a sort of vase in which to hold the eggs as they are deposited. Then a long oval egg is lodged in the angle formed by the crossed legs, with its longer diameter vertical ; another following it is glued on to the side of the first in a similar position, and so on till some two or three hundred are fastened in a sort of raft or rather lifeboat, as the mass is curved upward at each end. Then the little vessel is abandoned to the mercy of the winds and wavelets, and so floats about for a few days, benefiting by sun and air, till the growing embryos, finding their quarters too close, push open a kind of trap-door in the floor of the egg, and take a dive at once into a watery home.'
“The male mosquito, it appears, bever (sic) goes into houses except by accident, and only drinks water.
“Blood-sucking is an acquired taste with the female.
“ It has been calculated that there are a hundred and twenty-five species of mosquitoes, but a great many of the species, however, are hardly distinguishable one from another.
"There are two methods of limiting the number of mosquitoes, according to the naturalists. One is by draining all stagnant waters, and the other is by cultivating certain species of dragon-flies and spiders, which make it a business of killing the venemous flies. Their suppression would certainly add much to the happiness of this nation."-Egyptian Morning News.
them from head to foot. The ticks are very fond of establishing themselves in crannies of mortar. Agenoria had to banish her dogs to the roof, which was the only place the ticks did not like. If she walked twenty yards from her house with any of her dogs they got covered with ticks again. No dog can live at the Delta Barrage, ticks are so bad there ; and in the Sudan they get into the dog's lungs and give it a kind of rapid consumption.
The pariah dogs which you get in Egyptian villages, and in some of the lower parts of Cairo, do not suffer from them at all: they do worse ; they suffer from ingratitude. Agenoria saw a horrid little Egyptian boy swinging a pariah puppy round his head by its tail. She bought it from him to save it from further ill-usage. It was not his to sell, but that did not matter, it prevented him raising an outcry about her taking it away. It grew into a very handsome beast of great size and unblemished fur ; a regular wolf, except that it was amiable. But as soon as it grew up it deserted the house except at meal times, and spent its days with the other pariahs. Finally it became too bored to come home for its meals, and the last Agenoria saw of it was taking poisoned meat from the hand of a smiling and treacherous Egyptian in the uniform of the police. Fleas go without saying, I mean, they come. April is the worst month for them.
The Egyptians have patent medicines of their own; for the various kinds of insects they have a cheaper powder, said to be superior to Keating's. They import the most improved Venetian pastilles for the fumigation of mosquitoes; they even have a cure for the sea-sickness microbe, which begins with "z," and is beginning to find world-wide acceptation. But, if you want to defy insects in Egypt, you must rummage out everything once a month at least, and must paste up every crack in cupboards and drawers and panels and floors with paper, after filling it up with insect powder underneath.
The servants are as bad as the insects. Non-Berberine Nubians give the least trouble, but Agenoria found her solemn Nubian butler-man beating his little boy, a tiny dot