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as wide as a drawing-room outside your bedroom, where you could sit and look at the Blue Nile over an avenue of trees with flaming blossoms and tropical birds. Or if you happened to be up at two-thirty in the morning you could see the Southern Cross, a diamond-shaped constellation of stars that flash like diamonds, rising up from the horizon like an aeroplane.
I always thought that the Sudan Government did not show quite its usual sagacity in abandoning travellers to the Grand Hotel, which was costly if clean, and for twenty-five shillings a day gave you nothing that a mess-sergeant could not have given you. As they are so anxious for people to see the Sudan, and invest in it, they ought to start a sort of club for both sexes like the Albemarle, with plenty of bedrooms and a fixed moderate tariff. Quite rich people are deterred from going to Khartûm by the cost of the trip. It costs more than Assuan, apart from the expense of the journey, and they say: "At Assuan we know that we shall have a jolly good time and be done thoroughly well; so we don't grudge the money. But what is there to take us to Khartûm ?”
They would not take the same pleasure as I did in the fact that the doorkeeper, even in the middle of the winter, slept under a tree by the gate-on an angarib, of course. Going to bed is such a simple thing for an Egyptian (he was an Egyptian); who never takes his clothes off for anything except to have a bath, and hasn't much clothes for that,
In Egypt the real porter, that is to say, the doorkeeper, never has a proper place to sit or sleep in. He sits outside the door all day, and generally puts up his bed just inside it. If you come home late from a dance you have to squeeze past a man in bed. To be allowed to sleep under a staircase is a luxury for him ; it is almost like having a bedroom.
Flora at the Luxor Hotel-I call her Flora because her appearance suggested a cornucopia---was very autocratic. Her husband, her Dalmatian maid, and all her staff of Arab servants, were expected to accept her decisions without question,
The day that I rode home from Thebes, remounting at the Luxor landing, with the head of a priestess of Der-elBahari, which is one of my greatest treasures, I wanted a safe place to keep it uninjured, being the most beautiful mummy head I ever saw out of a museum. I asked Flora if she could keep it for me safely. “Sicuro, Signore." She was delighted. I had visions of it occupying a shelf in one of her store-cupboards. She was great on locking things up, which was doubtless very necessary, and she had keys enough for a jailor. I thought no more about it till I heard the Dalmatian chambermaid expostulating with her, on the next morning. And then I discovered that her idea of putting it away in a safe place was to tell the chambermaid to keep it in her bedroom. The poor chambermaid was terrified, as any properly constituted Italian woman would be, although she had wrapped it up in a discarded chemise, so that she could not see it. I said to Flora that if the head was only going to rest on the top of a wardrobe it might just as well rest on the top of my wardrobe as Calfurnia's, and again thought no more about it till I went to bed, and found it still with Calfurnia's chemise wrapped neatly round it. Calfurnia was quite willing to sacrifice that privy garment if the priestess was to go with it. I think my wife gave her a new one instead. The head, which we honour so, came home in the gift of Calfurnia, which, I believe, is still in the beautiful Esna basket which we bought to carry the head in while we were travelling. The head has since been pronounced by a prominent Egyptologist to be probably the head of a priestess of Derel-Bahari "in the spacious times of the great Elizabeth of Egypt"_Queen Hatasu. The incident is significant of the reign of Flora.
In point of comfort we were not often better off than we were at Flora's. It was not greatly less luxurious or more simple than the Grand Hotel at Khartům, and the food was very much better and more plentiful. Flora herself, when she chose, could make exquisite Italian shortbread, less rich than the Scotch, as delicately flavoured as pastilles de
gimauve. She presented me with tins and tins of it, which we used for dessert and afternoon tea, because I was the only guest in the hotel who could rattle on gossip in Italian. The others were all severely English or American, except a forlorn French couple, who sat and sighed for the coffeepots of the Parisian Boulevards. We liked Flora very much for her genuine Italian goodness of heart. She always wanted to be told about Italy, which I knew much better than she did, for she was an Alexandrian Italian, who had only paid visits to Hesperia. She was always dreaming of the actual gardens of Hesperia. Egypt does not rival Italy in gardens.
That hotel was remarkably rich in humours outside, for there was a donkey-boys' stand opposite, and camels often used to stand there, and the law-court was just up the road, and the high road from Karnak entered Luxor at this point. You had only to sit on a chair on the verandah to take notes and photographs of the preposterosities of native life all day long. The propinquity of the camels to the court often made me think of magistrates the camel is so like a magistrate in his expression. He has a sententious mouth and a withering stare, and I wonder that no caricaturist has ever drawn him with spectacles. Donkey-boys on a stand are more amusing to watch than monkeys. The donkeys look as if they despised them so, I had often wished to know what donkey-doys did with themselves when at leisure, but nothing they ever did was quite so funny as the habit of the people who had business in the law-court. They used to come hours before they were wanted ; some came at daylight, and sat in the dust outside, mostly hunched up, holding their knees until they were wanted. I have seen a queue of them two hundred yards long. Perhaps the Coptic clerks, scribbling at green baize tables just outside the court-house gate, were engaged in determining the order of precedence ; or they may have been there to take down dictation of anything that had to be in writing, because so few of the applicants could read or write. Of course it is rather a gamble as to when your case will come on, if people who know that their case will go
against them can have it put off indefinitely by the simple expedient of paying the magistrate's clerk to slip their paper under the bottom of the pile whenever it comes to the top. This is the most immaculate form of dishonesty for an Egyptian. The ghaffirs, who were there to keep order, sat in the dust with the litigants: it was the most comfortable seat. It is really rather uncivilised of European people, when they are dropping with tiredness, not to use the seat that Mother Earth has provided for them. This simplicity in the matter of accommodation allows the Arab to do everything at a "cut" price; a steamer which could not accommodate twenty English people for a voyage up the Nile could take two hundred Arabs, using the deck for beds and chairs. A luggage van makes a convenient railway carriage for them.
I always wondered why we saw any people at Karnak-at all, considering the procession of its inhabitants which I saw coming into Luxor every morning-endless white-veiled sheikhs and black-veiled women on little donkeys without saddles or bridles; endless boys and young men munching sugar-cane; endless children who seemed to be playing their parts in a living fairy tale; and the proper quantum of camels. They were either bringing in their produce or going to work, and were so delightfully unconscious and Oriental in their attitudes that every one of them was a kodaker's prize.
From Luxor to Damietta is a far cry. Most English people will find the hotels of Damietta too humorous. There are no obvious hotels at Damietta, but when at last we discovered one (which called itself the Hôtel de France, though it was a native inn kept by a woman who would not come out of her harem), the first thing we were informed was that we could not have anything to eat or drink. None of the relations who acted as servants could speak anything but Arabic. The utmost separation we could get between the sexes was a partition half-way up to the ceiling. But they had accessories such as enormous and filthy Arab slippers, a clothes-brush worn to the bone, with a comb stuck in it, and an old tooth-brush. The partitions were so small that the slippers took up nearly all the room which was not occupied