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marriage of a reformed slave was in progress, when a Bey arrived to marry her at the recommendation of the Khedive. The Khedive said that the Bey was to have the girl, and the Bey was very anxious to have her. The lady in charge did not know what to do, so she sent for the girl and asked whether she would have the Bey-a gentleman for whom she would not have to work-or the other. As she did not seem to care, it was decided that she should marry the Bey, so he was substituted for the half-married bridegroom, and the marriage proceeded. The “Lochinvared "bridegroom went to Lord Cromer to complain that it was an infringement of the liberty of the subject. But Lord Cromer said, “You must not mind; these women are used to it from their childhood."
One great difficulty in having contracts with Egyptians is that they sign a document with their seal instead of a signature. Afterwards, if they don't like it, they destroy the seal with which the document was sealed, and have a new one made totally different. This happened to R. When the man repudiated the contract, R. went to the village policehouse, and had an interview with the Omdeh. He took the man who had witnessed the seal with him, and they testified that the seal had been made by that man in their presence. The Egyptian was not to be done ; he asked to be allowed to look at the document, and when it was handed to him tore it up, whereupon the Omdeh sagely observed that as the document was destroyed nothing could be done. The case unfortunately did not come before Lord Cromer, whose summary remedies kept even an Egyptian straight. The simplest Egyptian is cunning in his simplicity. R. was examining a platelayer to see if he could understand simple bits of arithmetic before he engaged him. He asked “ If three men moved sand from the line at 41 p.t. a day for five days, how much should he have to pay them for it?"
“Where were they moving the sand ?" asked the platelayer.
“No man would work on the Suez line for 43 p.t. a day,” said the platelayer.
A man was thrown into a canal by a cart running down a bank; he stuck in the mud and was in imminent danger of being drowned. R. and a gang of men flew to pull him out. “Stop!” cried the policeman, running up breathless, “I must take a procés verbal before anything else is done." R. exercised his authority, and the policeman collapsed, as they always do in the face of resistance. Another time a train was going along a line, when the driver saw a string of camels roped together, walking along the line in front of them. The train whistled and whistled, but the camel-driver for a long time would take no notice. When he did, he was so slow at getting out of the way that the train caught the last camel on the rump and knocked it round. The shock dragged the other camels into collision, and they were all killed except one, including the camel-driver.
Another time there was a string of camels laden with petroleum walking along the line. The train came up behind and knocked the camels into a ditch with the driver and all the tins under them.
There is a great temptation for camels to use the line in Egypt, where there are so few roads. It is a mercy that they got the man out alive, because Egyptians do not show the least sense in emergencies. R. watched some men hauling and hauling at something in a ditch. He knew that whatever it was must have gone wrong, so he went to see what they were doing. A donkey had fallen in, and they were trying to pull him out by the hind-legs, with the result that his fore-legs stuck like an anchor, and his nose and mouth were full of mud.
On a cold north-wind day he saw a man take a tiny boy and girl down to the Nile, strip them naked, and start washing their clothes, while they howled on the bank. Then the father laid the clothes down and took the children, who were filthy-black instead of olive, except their legs and their heads—and washed the very parts of them that were clean, and left the rest. Then he put their wet clothes on them again and took them home. Once, when R. was travelling in a boat on the Mahmudiya canal, he met a woman with a
EGYPTIAN WOMAN RIDING. She is holding her shawlover lier face with her teeth to concealitas she passes the rian on her left. On the road from Karnak to Luxor.
sackful of stale bread and some pieces of cheese and meat. He asked her where she was taking them. She said she was taking them to prison.
“ What for?”
“Sir," she said, “ very little will get to him, only what the guards cannot eat: they will take the cheese and the meat and the best of the bread, and then perhaps they will let me give what they cannot use to my husband."
R. went to the prison in Tanta in 1882 when the British were assuming the occupation of the country. He found all the people who were waiting to go before the court, plaintiffs, claimants, witnesses, defendants, and prisoners, men and women, chained together in one large room, where they would not have been secure if they had not been chained, because it was so tumble-down. They were never allowed to leave the room, and there was no sanitary provision, except an open drain down the middle of it. That was how they managed things before the English went there.
R. heard that there were a lot of snipe at some place along the line, so he told the driver to stop the train there for him to get off. The birds were very plentiful, and he began shooting at once. After about half an hour he happened to look in the direction of the train, and found it still there. They said it was because he had not told them to go on, but the staff were watching the shooting with frantic interest; so it may have been that. Either was typically Egyptian.
When R. first went out to Egypt, in 1879, he was at work at a place that was a good way from a station, but not far from the line, so he used to give the guard and the driver bakshish to let him down where he wanted. Afterwards he thought there might be trouble about it, so he went to the President of the railway to get his authorisation. The President said he had no authority to stop expresses at any time, but that he could stop slow trains in the daytime. There was, however, no slow train during the day, so he could