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of them, but was the local cab, which kept body and soul together with difficulty in the long intervals between the arrival of people who wanted to see the temples, and were not provided with donkeys by Thomas Cook & Son. History does not relate how the Royal Duke arrived at the temples. The Mudir proved to be a delightful man. He was soon afterwards sent to prison for some typical piece of Egyptian roguery.
When the Royal Duke had gone he asked the Rhodeses to stay with him, and gave them a much more regal entertainment than he had given to H.R.H. He showed them temples which foreigners never see, gave them picturesque police escorts on white Arabs, and provided a flotilla of carriages for them. The coachmen always tried to break their necks with kindness, because the proper thing to do was to drive them about at a gallop.
The climax came when it was time for them to go back to Cairo. The Mudir sent all sorts of stewed pigeons, and other flesh-pots of Egypt, on Hadendowa plates of plaited basket-work, and, just as the train was moving off, put a huge Erment dog, a great big puppy, into the train with them. This is the half-wild breed of gigantic watch-dog used in Upper Egypt. A friend had asked them to buy one for him and they had mentioned it. There was nothing to pay, the Mudir said : it was a present. They thanked him profusely, and, when they got back to Cairo, sent the dog to the friend who had given them the commission.
A few days afterwards they received an indignant letter. It appeared that the dog had been stolen. They wanted one; that was sufficient. The Mudir told his henchman to take the best he could find in the “ billage,” as he called it, and give it to the great man and his wife.
Agenoria wrote to the receiver of stolen goods to explain the circumstances, and wrote to the bereaved owner to ask what the equivalent of the dog was in money. She got back a letter by return of post, couched in terms of courtesy and generosity typically Egyptian--the Egyptian is not mean with his ill-gotten possessions, rather the reverse; he is merely dishonest. The letter said that all the late owner's
possessions were hers; would she keep the dog to oblige him? He would not hear of her paying anything.
I forgot to say that the Mudir, wishing to show the generosity of his intentions, had sent enormous lumps of raw beef, in addition to the cooked viands, for them to eat in the train.
Ismail Pasha made up his mind that it would be a good thing to have Egyptian Houses of Parliament. He got them together somehow and proceeded to instruct them in their duties himself. He divided them into two lots, without any rhyme or reason in the selection, and said to the people on one side: “You are the Government. You have to bring in the measures,” and to the people on the other side: “You are the Opposition; you will have to oppose the measures And then you can take a vote.”
The first motion that Ismail suggested for them to discuss was an increase in his salary by so many thousands a year. They all voted for it.
“But you are the Opposition,” protested the Khedive to the people, who had been so arbitrarily selected for the purpose. You ought to vote against it.”
But the Opposition said, in other words : “No fear." They knew far too well which side their bread was buttered.
“But you must," said Ismail, “or Party Government will be not much use in Egypt." He did not know how prophetically he was speaking.
Then he asked the whole of them to a soirée at the Ghezira Palace. It had not long been opened ; its cost had been something prodigious; he had sunk £500,000 before the building reached the level of the ground. It was so close to the Nile that the water rose in its cellars to the Nile level, as if they had been made for Nilometers, and it was begun at the wrong season.
The legislators arrived one evening. The Khedive inspected them through the peephole in one of the harem windows. As they did not look very clean, he decided to lend them white cotton gloves while they were there. The gloves were distributed by the police; they were probably police stores.
The members had to give receipts for the gloves, and received their IOUs back when they returned them.
About that time an American lady got up private operaticals. The opera was about ancient Egypt, and the Khedive lent her all the jewellery that had been made for the great performance of Aïda. But he made her give receipts. It is not surprising that Ismail's mind ran in this direction, considering how he had been plundered by the world. One imitation tiara worn by the Queen had cost him two hundred pounds. It nearly caused bloodshed between the two leading ladies in the amateur theatricals' opera to decide who should wear it.
Among other reforms, Ismail Pasha decided that Egypt ought to have a Navy. He appointed an Admiral of the Fleet, but the Admiral, who was not a sailor, did not know what to do. Ismail told him to go round the Mediterranean paying visits, especially to Malta. “You'll find the British Navy there," he said ; “if you imitate them you must be right."
The Admiral cruised about till he was afraid to stay at sea any longer, and came back in six days saying: “ Malta mafeesh"- I cannot find Malta.
One night Ismail was giving a party, and the vegetables which he required did not arrive in time. He sent telegraphic instructions to caution the station-master with fifty strokes of the bastinado on the soles of his feet, which that functionary duly received. It afterwards appeared that the vegetables had never been delivered at that station. The stationmaster's intelligence and zeal, however, were so quickened by the caution he had received that he rose to be the Administrator of one of the great Departments of State, and lived to be the devoted servant of three Khedives. He was a Copt.
The Man About Town in Egypt
NE of the best stories I heard about Johnnies in Egypt
was that of the muezzin. The muezzin is the man who gives the Azam, or call to prayer from the minaret of a mosque (when it has a minaret)—five times a day,at daybreak, at noon, at afternoon, at sunset, and when it is quite dark. He calls out in a sonorous voice six different invocations, all of them twice, and one of them four times. As he generally has a good voice and intones charmingly, the muezzin is a pleasing feature in the landscape except at daybreak, when some people want to sleep undisturbed. When Johnny Lavercombe first went to Cairo it required all Lord Cromer's influence to shield him for throwing stones at the muezzin " for making such a row at such a ridiculous hour in the morning.” That was the way it looked to Johnny Lavercombe.
I never saw Johnny Lavercombe-which is not his real name—till long residence in Egypt had made him a wiser man, though he still sometimes used some language, as when he fell through the prompter's trap in the stage at the Cairo A.D.C.s' theatricals. I went with him for a drive in a cab; it was a filthy, tumble-to-pieces cab, with weeds of horses; the man drove into everything and everybody. I never saw such a dirty, ragged, disreputable, pock-marked, bow-legged, cross-eyed creature. When we got out, Lavercombe expressed his mind in Arabic, and I noticed that the driver looked absolutely crushed. “What did you say to him, Lavercombe?" I asked. “Oh, nothing. I just told him that the only decent thing