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question, he invented an answer himself withcut consulting anybody.
A servant they had, who was already married, thought he would like to have a younger and more beautiful wife, so he asked their permission to go to a village in Upper Egypt where there was a woman whom he had contrived to see ; which is not difficult up there. He received it and went off with £12 in his pocket, and sent them an invitation to the wedding, in which he was alarmingly frank about the preparations which had been made for their comfort. Knowing how particular the English were about certain arrangements, he thought he was doing quite the right thing in mentioning them, poor man.
Egyptian animals are as naive as their fellow-countrymen. Agenoria kept a flamingo, six gazelles, a dozen dogs, and fifteen cats, who were not all belonging to her. The flamingo had an admirer in a skinny old hen; he used to stride round the garden with the hen running herself breathless to keep up with him. Her eggs were so large that they thought she was really in love with the flamingo.
The oldest resident cannot always escape the attentions of the Egyptian guide. One day, when they were at Mulid-enNebi, the Festival of the Birthday of the Prophet, a guide attached himself to Agenoria's niece and her, and remained their devoted slave to the day of their departure from Egypt. He quoted Shakespeare, and had a sense of humour. They never employed him, but he used to come and call upon them. One day he brought £60 with him, and said: “Will you take this of me?" He meant that she was to take care of it for him. She consented and said, "I had better give you a receipt. He said, “ No; all right with you; all people always coming into my house.” But she protested, “No, you see me seal this up," and asked him his name to write upon it. “Gladyos Morgan, a Copt.”
" Egyptians,” said Gladyos Morgan, “think it is nothing to be honest, but they are very proud of doing you. They always say you won't know."
Once when her husband was away Agenoria was so ill that
the servants thought she was dying. They all came in and stood round her, and one of them saved her life. It was so comical seeing the tears drop off the horns of his enormous moustache ; he did not think it respectful to wipe them off his face. She laughed so that the flood of vitality came back, which reminds one of a story which a well-known author tells of himself. The cherished pig of one of his parishioners was dying, and the old woman begged and prayed him to say some good words over it so that it might recover. He refused for a long time, but at last her distress prevailed, and he went down to the pigstye and said : "O pig, if thou livest thou livest, and if thou diest thou diest." The pig at once turned round and began to eat its food. Some time after it was the vicar's turn; he was dying of quinsy, when the old woman came to his door and said : “O vicar, if thou liveth thou liveth, and if thou dieth thou dieth"; and he laughed so heartily that he burst the quinsy and immediately began to mend.
Agenoria had an old German cook at one time who, strange to say, was dishonest. The gatekeeper, a Nubian Moslem named Abdul Makram, was a delightful person who always looked a gentleman, and was most intelligent and lazy. One day Abdul Makram sent for Agenoria's niece, at seven o'clock in the morning, to say that the cook was taking things away, and that he would not let her pass. When the niece had slipped on a dressing-gown and reached the point of action, she saw the remains of the cook's umbrella, which had been broken over Abdul Makram's head. “What did you do to her, Abdul Makram?"
“ I no touch her-I a gentleman."
Egyptian servants are good up to a certain point, but they have no initiative; they are also good up to a certain time, when they grow weary of well-doing. All foreigners who know them are agreed that they are not the faithful creatures they used to be.
Agenoria, however, had less trouble with her servants than most people. They were very proud of her being so pretty (Egyptians, like some other nations, love people to be pretty),
and they were the best-dressed servants in Cairo. They had golden silk galabeahs and very large turbans when they were in full dress; they were finer even than Lord Cromer's. One night, when Lord Cromer was entertaining royalty, unbeknown to his master, of course, his major-domo sent down to borrow their dresses for the Consul-General's servants. "No, sir," said Abdul Makram, “my madam is receiving important people herself to-night."
The servants, too, were very proud of her house, an old Pasha's palace, beautifully redecorated, and talked so much about it that people were always wanting to go over it, which, of course, was not permitted, except by the introduction of mutual friends.
To show what ants can do, I must tell the story of the governess who was sent to the German hospital with very bad legs. Agenoria's German cook was in the same room with her. The attendants did not pay much heed to the patients; they did not even tie paraffin rags round the legs of the beds, so the ants swarmed in the governess's wounds all night. She was defenceless ; she could not stir.
But fleas are the speciality of Egypt; they have a fea season, which begins in April. It would be no good to address the Egyptian Alea in the words of the Nicaraguan proverb, “ Have patience, feas, the night is long,” for the feas would simply answer, “What is the good of being patient when there aren't enough people to go all round?” I went one day in April, with Major Fletcher and Miss Norma Lorimer the novelist, to the Hanging Church of Babylon in Old Cairo, one of the most beautiful churches in the world, The fleas were hopping up off the floor as the rain hops up off the pavement in a thunder shower, in the piazza of St. Mark's at Venice. The Major and I knew what we had to expect; so we began our "inspection" in the tram. When we had picked all the visible fleas off our coats and trousers, we took off our coats and picked them off the linings, and unbuttoned our waistcoats and picked them off our shirts, and stood up and knocked our feet against the seats to shake them out of the bottoms of our trousers. Miss Lorimer went
and sat three seats behind us, partly, I think, because she was ashamed of us, but nominally because she was afraid of our Aleas hopping on to her. She did not know that the native policeman, who was sitting behind her, was being the pink of politeness, and picking fleas off her back and hat and veil, quite as industrious as we were. He did not think he was taking any liberty, because nothing is commoner than for natives to go up to each other, even in a ball-room, saying, “Excuse me," to catch a flea. One native, who was suffering from the standard Egyptian complaint of weak eyes, went up to an old French lady, at an evening party at Agenoria's, and tried to pick a mole off her neck.
The Egyptians recognise the sand-fly as the worst of all their insect pests. They call it something which means "I eat and keep silence"-but I can't spell the Arabic words.
More about Agenoria's Servants
ENTLEMAN been to see you,” said the suffragi, the
Arab man-housemaid, to Agenoria soon after her arrival.
" Who was he?" she asked. “ The Lord.”
Lourdes seemed nothing to this in the way of miracles, but the suffragi only meant Lord Cromer. The Egyptians had the habit of refering to him as “The Lord," and they were a great deal more afraid of him than of their Creator, whose name they so often took in vain as a witness to the value of their promises. Another time the same suffragi came into her drawing-room, and announced that a lady wished to see her. "Who is she ?” asked Agenoria. The suffragi said she was a lady in her own right, not meaning that she was the daughter of a duke or a marquis or an earl, but that in his judgment she was a real lady.
Agenoria's servants were surprised that they were not allowed to wash their heads and their stockings in the pantry sink, or even allowed to spit into it. Her trouble with her cooks was that, when one got tired of the situation, he quietly slipped away, and left another man, about whom she knew nothing, to take his place. The cook would just send in word, " I'll cook your dinner to-night, but I am going back to my billage.” The man left in his place was often preferable as a cook and as a citizen, but a good many things in the way of cooking apparatus used to vanish with the departed.
When Agenoria was staying at the Ghezira Palace before she married Cromwell Rhodes, he used to come courting her.