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they were escorted by wild Arabs on swift white horses, flourishing their long guns and with their shawls flying round their heads, who executed a sort of fantasia all the time. They were especially anxious to entertain the Rhodeses at a banquet.
When their consent was obtained outriders tore on to warn the camp to prepare. Agenoria was left with the women, who exercised her little Arabic to the full while they patted her on the back.
" How old are you ?" was of course the first question they asked.
"How old is your husband ?"
Then the women vanished, and the men came in with armfuls of bread like long thin logs, which they chopped up into lengths. Then they brought all sorts of meat skewered on little sticks. Naturally, there were no knives or forks. The one-eyed man who acted as host, whom the Rhodeses instinctively hated, pulled off all sorts of disagreeable and greasy delicacies and popped them into their mouths with his fingers. Agenoria went through it mournfully, and when she got home sent the women a present of spangled
On another occasion, when the restrictions of sex prevented her from being personally present at a banquet, an enormous dish was sent to her with a portion of everything that had been served at the feast arranged on it. Agenoria wrote a nice little letter of thanks, which so overcame the donor of the feast that he replied, “If I were not so unwholesome I would call and kiss your feet."
He only meant that he was not feeling well.
Cromwell Rhodes had a mango-tree in his garden which would not bear any fruit, so he told the head gardener to grub it out and put in a new one. The man was most unwilling to obey him. "I can get a charm for three piastres," he said, “and then if I burn some incense underneath it, it would fruit all right. But if you don't want that expense I shall drive a nail into it, and then you can say in the hearing of the tree, 'Gardener, cut it down. And I shall say, “Sir, spare it for a year, then if it does not bear fruit I will cut it down.''
Mr. Rhodes gave him permission to try all the remedies. He bought the charm, and burnt the incense, and drove in the nail and hung a piece of raw meat on it, and the very next year it bore three mangoes. It is true that they all dropped off before they came to maturity. But the tree was spared, and the last year before the Rhodeses returned to Europe it bore quantities of fruit.
Gardeners are sometimes a trouble. Agenoria had a gardener's boy who not only stole the eggs, but could not even leave the nest-egg alone.
When R. was in Upper Egypt he needed a servant, and had to engage a fellah absolutely untrained. But he liked the uncouth barbarian, and took him down to Alexandria, when he returned. The man had never seen the sea before, and inquired if he might ask a question. He wanted to know if the sea w on at night as well. He had never seen ice before, and when he could not find the ice in the morning, which he had put in his room overnight, accused everybody all round of stealing it.
When Agenoria first went out to Egypt, Cromwell Rhodes gave a picnic in her honour to the Virgin's Tree. He asked her to pour out tea, but the water which came out of the teapot was hardly coloured. “ Put in some more tea,” said R. The Egyptian put in half a teaspoonful, and said that there must be plenty now, because he had put in as much as that before. It was for twenty people.
All countries in the East have much the same word for tea, because they use some adaptation of the original Chinese word cha. Egyptians call it shay, and their word for barley is shair. When Mr. Rhodes came in from the marshes with his shooting boots very wet, he told this same treasure of a servant to fill them up with barley, which is the best way of drying them and making them retain their shape. The seryant misunderstood him and filled them up with the tea he kept for these picnics, which cost him four shillings a pound. It acted, however, quite as well as barley.
R. had a private car when he was travelling up and down the line, and had this servant attending him.
When he got home one night to go to bed, he could find neither his servant nor the matches, but as he felt his way to his bunk he found a person lying prostrate on the bed. Then he remembered that he had a match in his overcoat pocket, and struck it. It was his own servant, with his feet on the pillow and a bundle of his master's clothes under his head. R. woke him up with a loud voice, and the servant at once said, “ La mush ana"-No, it isn't me. He was not drunk, he merely did not expect his master home so soon.
Upper Egypt has its drawbacksmas a summer resort. Agenoria's husband was building the Keneh to Assuan line, one May and June. Agenoria went up at the end of May by the post-boat as far as Luxor, and then on by a little refass or tug, a stern-wheeler which towed Cromwell Rhodes's deputy in a dahabeah. It was frightfully hot, so hot that when Agenoria went on board and sat down to lunch, and took up her knife and fork, the fork burnt her fingers. She dropped it like a hot coal, and the Arabs put a tumbler of water beside her and slipped into it everything she was going to touch. They used to land first at one point and then at another, and in going from one boat to another Agenoria sometimes wore only about one garment. Her feet swelled so in the sand that she could not put her shoes on, and, when she went to her bath, she almost felt that she could not put her clothes on again. The climax of the prodigious heat was in the bathroom. Agenoria touched the wall when she was getting into her bath and scalded herself. She was so frightened that she believed she was fainting, and thought she would never get out. She hammered desperately at the door and really did faint before she was lugged out. When she came to she was lying on the floor in one garment, while a very fat man was putting ice on her ankles. He was asked why he did it; he said, “My mother always does it."
When Agenoria's husband had to go away he was rather anxious as to what might happen to her in the heat, so he told his men to take particular care of her. They sat round her, pretending to be smoking, but all keeping an eye on her, because they were convinced that, if for one moment she was not watched, she would faint again ; and they thought it would be a disgrace to them if she fainted while she was in their charge.
The thermometer registered 127 in the shade and something less in the cabins; the flies were something awful, and they were nearly annihilated by one of the afrits which gave the illustrators of the Arabian Nights their idea of a genie escaping from a bottle-the little spiral which goes on increasing, as it gyres, for several miles, and finally bursts in an awful sandstorm.
They had to have their beds on deck, surrounded by mosquito nets. One of these afrits blew the nets and the beds clean off the deck, and would have blown Agenoria too if the sailors had not sat on her : they were phlegmatic sailors fortunately. At Assuan the heat blew into them like the blast from a furnace.
Agenoria did not suffer like the French adviser whom the Khedive imported into Egypt, because he said he could put a barrage anywhere on the Nile, and save Philae. This egregious person was a Doctor of Medicine; he had never received the training of an engineer. Levels meant nothing to him. His plans for barrages were like the Czar's plans for the railway from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The Czar got a map which did not mark contours, and drew a straight line with a pen from one town to another; the Frenchman also got a map which did not mark contours, and made little lines with his pen, across the Nile, where he thought he would like to play with his barrages. He said he could put up any number of barrages. He felt the heat most awfully. He could not endure any clothes, so he used to go out on the desert in his night-shirt and a pair of slippers, with, of course, a wonderful helmet, and an umbrella big enough to shade a French market-woman's stall. He suffered the torments of
the damned from the flies: they ate his bare legs and his bald head ; they swarmed up under his night-shirt.
He went about moaning "Mouches, mouches, sacrés mouches," and scratching his head. He was a big, fat man with a double head like a Philippine almond-a nut in front, a sort of division, and another nut behind. A French archæological society, called the Société du Nil, or something of that kind, had sent him out. Nubar Pasha took him up; and the Duke of Sutherland and Mr. Edward Easton, who had just purchased the Alexandria waterworks from the Government, and were in treaty for a concession for the Behera Company, and several other large undertakings, advanced the money to send him up. They were the only people who had any money in Egypt then-the Government had not enough money to pay their own soldiers. But they would not trust the doctor with the money : they sent Cromwell Rhodes to run the expedition and act as their agent. Dr. de la Motte was so much exhilarated at realising at last the dream of his life, that on more than one occasion he got the party into trouble, first by shooting the favourite cow of a native chief, under the impression that it was a wild animal; and afterwards by getting into difficulties at a native feast, which he insisted on attending with no other clothing but a coating of castor-oil. Owing to these and other circumstances, when the party returned to Cairo they were not on very cordial terms.
Dr. de la Motte did not possess the most elementary knowledge to help him in deciding whether a site was suitable for a dam or not. But that did not prevent him from coming out with an elaborate scheme of reservoirs for both sides of the Nile, marked with a blue pencil on an enormous map which he always carried about with him and had been studying for years. He had no exact data ; there were in fact no exact data, for Egypt had not been surveyed. The place he chose for his feeding canal could not have been fed by any barrage that could be built by human labour, on account of its height above the river ; but it was in vain that
' Egyptian Gazette.