Page images


The Pasha'


HE Khedive Ismail had a protégé, whom he created a

pasha at an age when nobody but a royalty is ever made an officer in the army nowadays. He sent this boy, whose name was Hoseyn something or other, to England to be educated. He became very English in his ideas, and always liked to be taken for an Englishman. He was not in the least like one-he was a fat old thing, with his chin down on his chest, and foolish; he had no neck; he was a little bit wanting in everything.

When he was at school in England he became so absolutely English that Ismail sent for him. When he came into the Khedive's presence there were a lot of people talking Arabic. Ismail asked the boy some questions; the boy did not answer, but looked rather vacant. Then the Khedive spoke to him again, and Hoseyn turned to his tutor and said, " Please tell his Highness that I don't speak French." He was never allowed to go to England again after that.

He was very English even in Agenoria's day; he affected Agenoria a great deal. “Oh, Mrs. Rhodes,” he said, "you do know how to have jolly fun.” She always humoured him, and treated him with extreme politeness.

Once she got him to her house for ping-pong. He had never seen it before, but they made him play. He had never played anything in his life, but plunged at it wildly.

Hoseyn was always talking about playing tennis. He got 'These chapters upon native life in Egypt I owe to Agenoria, and I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to retain her own spontaneous wording.

so far as buying tennis shoes and a racquet and white trousers, but that was all. He was always going to play tomorrow.

The Pasha's first wife was old Khadijah, whose exploits adorn the next chapter. He divorced her, and would never let any one know who his second wife was, As he did not introduce Agenoria to her, Agenoria used to say, "I should just like to come and see her Excellency"; but he always made some excuse like his reasons for not playing tennis.

One day he bought a new palace; he took Agenoria to see it. It was very simply and very beautifully decorated. When he had moved into it, he took her there again. He had called in an Italian artist, who had covered the ceiling with the most garish stencillings; he had made a Moorish room, and had filled the whole palace with atrocious FrenchyOriental furniture, and he puffed himself out over it like a very proud turkey-cock.

Once upon a time the Pasha thought he would like to give a picnic, because Agenoria used to give donkey-ride picnics in the evening, to which every one had to bring a lantern and some musical instrument. She asked the Pasha to bring his flute. He could not play a bit. Of course he came in a very grand carriage and pair, and she had to drive with him : it would have been beneath his dignity to ride a donkey. She got him to play the flute all the time to encourage the others. The rest went on donkeys and bicycles and so on. Nothing much happened till they got to the artificial ruins erected by the Khedive Ismail round the Ghezira Palace, which was their second rendezvous after fooling round the Ghezira. When they got there, Agenoria suggested to the Pasha that he should get out of his carriage and climb a little hill, which had a rustic seat, and play his flute. She got him on the evening sky-line against the moon, where everybody could see him, and he tootled away.

They were all to go back to Agenoria's house to supper, but some of the young couples were lost altogether. One couple sat on a garden wall waiting for another-they were a girl and a man; they did not arrive until “ frightfully"

late, and the other couple did not arrive at all. The girl who did come at the eleventh hour drove over first thing next morning to beg Agenoria not to let her mother hear of it; the girl who didn't come at all simply did not care. The late Lord Rowton, of Rowton Houses fame, was one of the starters; he was riding his donkey beside a very fat young man, who found the pace and the evening too hot ; so they skulked behind, and waited at Agenoria's palace for the supper.

The Pasha was so fired with the joys of these midnight picnics that he thought he would like to give one himself; so he sent a eunuch round to ask if he might call. When he came he said, "I wished to consult you about giving a picnic." “Charmed," said Agenoria. It seemed that he did not know any one to ask. Would Agenoria do the inviting? She said she would if she might submit the list to him. She did, and he accepted it wholesale. He had only two suggestions to make himself. These persons were not extremely aristocratic, but they were invited. These picnics consisted chiefly of subalterns and the girls whom they affected in Cairo society. The Pasha went round saying " Very good chap, jolly good chap.” And the boys were rather tickled by his shining affability.

This sort of thing was too good to last. It was not long before he came to Agenoria bursting with fury, because “he had not been noticed." It turned out that the commanding officers had passed word to the subalterns that they were not to drink with him in public bars.

But to return to the picnic. Agenoria had to drive with him in his carriage ; they drove right out to Ghezira and wandered along the river wall. Then the Pasha was suddenly lost. Agenoria, who knew him, said, “We had better wait here for half an hour.” She guessed exactly what had happened : he had thought that his supper might not be right, and had flown home to see. She kept the company playing about until the Pasha's carriage was sent back for her. Then they went to his palace. They found the whole courtyard filled with an enormous buffet laden with wonder

ful French pastry, a few sandwiches, and an ocean of drinks. The Pasha waddled about, puff, puff, puff, calling out, " I say, old chap.” He was prodigiously important. The guests stayed very late, and the subalterns almost drained the ocean, and told the Pasha straight on that he was "a jolly good chap.”


The Naughty Princess

NCE upon a time, and that not many years ago, there

a naughty princess, who was the wife of a Pasha. She was a very larky lady, anxious to be European in every way, and she was very fond of Agenoria; so she asked her to go to the picnic she was giving on the river.

Agenoria went to her house-one of those big, old houses on the river, which made you quite nervous to go inside them: they had such cracks that you thought they would have fallen every minute. She was shown into the receptionhall of the harem; no one else had arrived. Suddenly while they were talking, the Princess bobbed down behind an ottoman, which ought not to have been there, in a properly constituted native house ; a man had appeared in the doorway-a painter or something of that kind.

The idea is that such men do not see the harem ladies, but they do see them all the time, though they only notice them, when they make frantic efforts to conceal themselves.

The Princess had made up her mind that Agenoria, who was slight and graceful, should be dressed in her (the Princess's) clothes for the picnic. She was a Turkish lady, and enormously fat.

Agenoria was dressed up in a grand brocade mantle, with a little kind of ladies' turban, made of flowers and a flat band of muslin, which went all round, very untidily pinned behind, very raggy. She had on a yashmak, the white gauze Turkish veil, not the little black Egyptian burka_that is only a common person's veil.

« PreviousContinue »