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yellow, and pomegranate-juice red--for Nubians often show beautiful taste in the decoration of their persons and their house-fronts. The beads of native manufacture are fascinating for a shilling I bought a necklace of roughly polished agates, round, the size of peas, and the colour of old amber. You could not buy it for a pound in England, even if you were able to find a shop which had one. Among the most covetable are the great cylindrical beads of opaque amber—the colour of the yolk of a duck's egg, and the long silver beads shaped like shuttles, worn smooth with being handed down from mother to daughter on the banks of the Nubian Nile.
Nubians do not like a necklace to match. They have a few big amber beads for luck and to give it a tone, some silver ones to break the masses of colour, some egg-shaped agates, some blue mummy beads, a carved ivory cylinder stolen from an ancient tomb, a boar's tusk, a lion's claw, an elephant's tooth-any other raree ; and they often fasten them at the back with a bit of tarnished gold lace off an officer's epaulette.
In the more typical shops, as soon as a woman starts buying necklaces, the oily proprietor tries to lure her into buying something more expensive, which he asserts to be especially cheap in Egypt-turquoises or peridots, or lapis-lazuli, the last for a choice, because it need not be real. I had a most amusing episode in connection with a lapis-lazuli necklace at Assuan. There was an American literary man on board the boat with us, who had made a huge success with comic opera, and was scattering his shekels. His wife started buying necklaces; I think she began with a sandal-wood necklace at two piastres, and progressed first, in the hands of the artful Egyptian, to a two-shilling necklace of blue mummy beads without any little gods attached to them. It is well to whet the appetite of the purchaser with cheapness. Then he offered her a lapis-lazuli necklace of a charming colour for eight pounds. With infinite patience she and her husband beat him down to four.
I am such an old hand at buying curios that I generally impress my companions on a voyage in this capacity. The dramatist brought me his wife's bargain in triumph. “How much did you give for it?" I asked. “ Four pounds," he said. “ You think it's real, don't you ?” he asked. “No; I don't. For if it was real it would be worth forty pounds. And the Jew you bought it of knows what lapis beads are worth by weight. Lapis of a certain colour has a fixed value, below which a dealer will never go.” “Don't it look real ?” he asked. “At first glance, yes. But let me look into it, because it must be sham at the price you paid.” “Well, look into it," he said, rather crossly.
I did not have far to look, for the string on which it was strung had taken the dye between the beads, and the borings of the beads had not taken it, because they were filled up with string. That white string with its blue rings was damning. The dramatist took it back to the Jew. "I'll give you a hundred pounds if it isn't real," said the Jew. “Don't do that,” said the American, “but give me back the four pounds right now, if you don't want me to go to the police." "I'm not afraid of you're going to the police,” said the Jew grandly. “But here's your money if you think you've made a bad bargain.” “I think I've made a very bad bargain,” said my friend, who was the gritty kind of American. " I'm making you take the thing back, because it's a bad swindle. Don't you make any mistake about it." The Jew shrugged his shoulders and said: “Oh, well, here's your money.” My reputation as a curio-buyer went up with such a rush that I believe I could have made a handsome sum out of commissions in buying for my fellow-passengers, if I had wanted to.
The golden rule of curio-buying, always to go to the wrong shop, holds good at Assuan. There are several shops where you pay extravagantly for hippopotamus-hide sticks or stuffed crocodiles and other staple articles, at which you can buy Pharaonic, Roman, and Coptic antiquities for a song. They know the market price of hippic and crocodilic articles, but they know nothing about the sprinkling of antiquities they sell, which have been brought in to them by country people, and purchased for practically nothing. One often gets bargains in Coptic antiquities at Assuan. One used to buy beautiful medieval inscriptions from the Arab cemetery, but the authorities have stopped this trafficking in tombstones. You do not get bargains in Sudanese jewellery here like you do at Luxor. It is all in the hands of the big dealers. But one of the small jewellers, who work over a single ember of charcoal at Assuan, tried a new kind of swindle with me. The amount concerned was not large; it was two piastres. He begged me to buy a woman's forehead ornament-it was a hideous thing. I did not want it and I did not think it cheap. It was made of gilt brass. But I bought it to please him. Half an hour afterwards he came to me with a policeman and said that it belonged to a customer ; that I must take the money back. "All right,” I said, and handed him the jewel and took the money. "Did you give him that money?" asked the policeman, “because it is bad." "No," I said, “I gave him a two-piastre piece, and he has brought me back four small piastres.” So the whole business was a new expedient for passing bad money on one. The policeman made him give me good money, and, if he was like any other Egyptian policeman, probably made the jeweller give him some good money too. The chief of all the commandments in Egypt is the eleventh, “Thou shalt not be found out."
There is another and far more interesting piece of the bazar behind Neufeldt's house. It lacks the gaiety and audacity of the other part, which is hung with every kind of preposterous theatrical "property" which can be passed off on the wealthy American as Oriental. Sham armour of the Crusaders, sham Abyssinian weapons, sham plunder from the tombs of Ancient Egypt, European beads, tinsel made in Germany, anything which is garish and showy, and only fit for an Oriental bazar in musical comedy, is laid under contribution for the centre of the bazar, But, away at the northern end Africa asserts itself. After about half a inile of the shops, where the native deals for his futile tinkery and turnery and haberdashery, one comes to the Bisharin bazar, where the real business is the sale of barbaric grain. This is almost like a bit of Omdurman, conducted under broad sheds, where Bisharin primitives squat on the ground between grain of all the colours of the rainbow in sharp-pointed heaps. Sometimes you meet desert Bisharin wandering in here, men who have never seen a kodak. This is a relief. Fuzzy-wuzzy enjoys being photographed so much that he is rather a nuisance to the kodaker. At this end of the bazar there is a fascinating admixture of saints' tombs, khans or native inns, and sweetmeat sellers, who make their candy into a pole striped like a barber's and sometimes ten feet high. Between this and the river is the port of Assuan, with a swarm of big gyassas, generally laden with water-jars, tied to the bank, nose on; and enormous heaps of grain on the shore. Down below the port, on the way to Komombo, is one of the best reaches of the Nile for sailing. Assuan is quite a yachting place, and away at the back of the bazar are the golf-links. Golf at Assuan presents a novelty. It is nothing in Egypt to have golf-links in the desert, left practically in a state of Nature, except for the greens of stamped clay. But at Assuan, though it has a nice club-house, the golf-club submits to a fresh inroad of barbarism. The day I went there a man came to caddie wearing a big sword
most formidable-looking savage, but an experienced caddie.
Assuan is great on sport. Besides golf (presided over by a fine Scottish player, brother of an amateur champion) and sailing, it has a great deal of tennis on very excellent courts, and splendid sand all round it for riding. There was no polo going on when I was there, but a polo course could be made whenever it was wanted, by clearing away the stones on a sufficient area of the desert. Polo is played on sand at Omdurman.
Mr. Thackeray is inimitable, a Juvenal of the brush in his satires of Assuan. In his “Beauty and the Beasts" he gives us a pretty, fair young Englishwoman, charmingly neat, with a fat dragoman and a donkey as lean as a towel-horse, on a stretch of unmistakable sand. In his “Dandy Tourist we have a back view of the lean, aristocratic, hunting Englishman in a beautifully cut white riding kit relieved by the
brown pipe-stems of his top boots and the brown ox-horns of his curled moustache. He confronts the sandy compound of the Cataract Hotel, bounded by the mosque-like English church. And the little boy who dusts the sand off your boots with the ostrich-feather broom every time you come in, on his left, the dragoman on his right, and the flying donkeyboy before him, are all lost in admiration of his stately pose. The “Gollywogs" shows extreme tourists surrounded by little fuzzy-wuzzy Bisharins. "Philæ" shows Pharaoh's Bed, looking like a tour de force of the scene-painter, as it rises from the water, and the theatrical-looking felookah in which you are rowed there. “A Sidelight" shows the port of Assuan, stretches of sand and heaps of grain, with a forest of felookah masts in the background, and half a dozen arguing natives and a couple of kids in the foreground. While, “Should Women Ride Astride?" with the pinky desert and Arab cemetery in the background, proves conclusively that, no matter how ungracefully their skirts are bunched in the process, they do not look really worse than a fat dragoman in balloon breeches. You could not get the sidelights of Assuan better than you have them in this book.
Assuan is a sort of Egyptian Cannes; people do not go there for sight-seeing, they go there because they need the climate, or to enjoy British summer sports and society.
For this it is difficult to imagine a more ideal place. It never rains at Assuan; one gets such days in the depth of winter there as one never gets in the height of summer here; the scenery is lovely and unique, and the Cataract Hotel is one of the pleasantest in the world. It stands on the banks of the Nile, between the Turkish castle and the hill, where soldiers have been barracked since the time of the Romans, because it commands the river approach from
'Was Juvenal, when he was exiled to command a cohort of legionaries by the First Cataract of the Nile, and expressed his indignation in fierce attacks upon his own soldiers and the Egyptians, in his Fifteenth Satire, stationed here or on the island ? If his fort occupied the site of the Turkish castle at the back of the Cataract Hotel, it is a pity that his ghost cannot communicate its reflections on the extravagances of twentieth-century Society to a trustworthy Julia for publication.