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important than he really is.
But in most respects he is
abnormally unreliable. Another good feature is his con
tentedness; he has only two meals a day, and is content with extraordinarily little at them; he will sleep anywhere. In an Egyptian hotel, unless it is a very grand one, there is generally a suffragi sleeping under the staircase, and another behind the front door. Every house in Egypt has a man at the back of the door, and these men have a tiresome habit of making their beds right against the door, so that it won't open even when it is unlocked. This is all right in a private house with a burglar scare in progress, but rather tiresome if you are trying to get into the telegraph office, or your hotel, at an unusually dissipated hour. Many telegraph offices in Egypt are open all night, and the suffragi's desire to go to bed is the only closing hour enforced at hotels. The law may have ordained one, which is more honoured in the breach than the observance; but what really makes the patrons leave a bar eventually is the knowledge that, as soon as they are gone, the suffragi will gain possession of his al-fresco bedroom.
The suffragi's habit of making his bedroom in every part of the house except a room is not so embarrassing as it might be, because he does not undress when he goes to bed ; he only undresses when he goes to his bath, to which he is fortunately addicted. He makes far less difference than his master in the matter of winter and summer clothing.
The suffragi is clean in his person, but he is not vehement about washing, or brushing your house, unless you worry him a good deal more than the flies do. But he makes a very good valet ; he is quite energetic about getting up in the morning, he is always up a little after sunrise, and always asleep when you want him in the afternoon, or at any odd moment. To wipe his own person he uses the gay cotton cloths which Turks use for towels and foreigners take home for antimacassars. He also uses your towels, but not after a bath. He never dries himself after a bath. He does not use the brass water-jug like a grown-up coffee-pot, with which he has to pour water over the hands of his betters, if he is
employed by a native, though he prefers running water if he can get it. ) He loves washing his hands under a running tap, and sucks the tap too, when he is thirsty. The suffragi class are much cleaner in their persons than the fellahin, and much pleasanter to deal with than the ordinary effendi, who is generally a Nationalist, and, even when he is not, is "merely a swollen-headed idiot as a rule," to quote the classic columns of an Egyptian newspaper.
The Egyptian maidservant is excellent, but you cannot get one unless you are married. In the Sudan, as in Japan, the English bachelor may have a temporary wife, who is also his servant, without causing any trouble. There is no resentment on the part of the relatives. A servant is sent to make the arrangements, and a sum down is agreed upon and paid. After that she has her board and lodging, like a servant, and receives a sum for dresses and so on. But this is not usual in Egypt, though the same kind of thing may go on in a house, where the master is married, without causing any trouble such as would ensue in a fanatical Moslem country like Persia, or even Tunis. The fact of the woman being employed in “a married family” makes it all right.
Slavery is by no means dead in Egypt, though it is kept out of sight of foreigners. There is a very famous café in the Esbekiya where all the girls have been bought. There is also a proverb that “In the Sudan a fiver will buy you anything."
Café-life is increasing both in Cairo and the provinces. The average Egyptian suffragi, above all the Berberine,
, spends all his evenings in cafés, and his evenings go very far into the night. This is not the only temptation cafés present for one's servants. Ramidge had a suffragi who could never be found when he was wanted. The reason was that, finding that Ramidge was rather easy-going, he took another job at a café round the corner, and only put in an appearance at Ramidge's when he was fetched, except at certain stated times when he knew that he would be wanted ; and Ramidge never found it out till the other suffragi told him about it after the dismissal of this Berberine Box and
Cox. The cooking is nearly always done on charcoal stoves, and every servant is more or less of a cook. The Arab head-waiter of one of the well-known hotels in Cairo during the season is cook when the season is over, and the European chef has gone to some summer hotel on his native Continent.
The Governor of Damietta gave us the best cooking we had in Egypt. I expect that he had a native cook, though all the big hotels have European chefs.
The Egyptian suffragi may not earn his wages well, but he earns his bakshish from the tourists well. I, who have in "Egypt and the English ” told the Egyptian his faults with uncompromising candour, may perhaps be credited when I confess that I liked the Egyptian servants, who waited on me in various ships and hotels, very much. I expected them to be obliging-obligingness is the national good quality. I found them quick to fall into the ways of Europeans, unusually intelligent, often reliable, and with a distinct aptitude for making themselves pleasing objects to look at. I can understand them not being thorough in sweeping out rooms; I can picture them behaving infamously to white women servants ; I should not expect every Egyptian to be honest; but they administered to my creature comforts well, distinctly better than Japanese servants; and I found them very pleasant to deal with.
As a footman the Egyptian is excellent. When you drive up to a resident's house, you are met by a handsome and dignified man in a beautiful dress, spotlessly clean, who receives you cordially without giving his mistress away. He makes you feel like a travelling nobleman, but is not sure whether his mistress is in or out, till he has ascertained whether she wishes to be in or out to you. Oriental instinct tells him whether you are a harmless visitor, or a commercial traveller. I am not sure what he does when he recognises that your object in calling on his mistress is to make her put her name down for a new kind of vacuum broom, or a pianola. But I think that he would make money out of that department. The drummer might perhaps not be admitted ; but if he paid well, the suffragi might insinuate to his mistress that
life was impossible without mechanically produced music or mechanically removed dust.
The Egyptian servant always looks well. He is, if a Mohammedan, clean and well-shaven. I prefer him simply in a spotless white galabeah with a scarlet tarboosh and sash, but admit that he is a sumptuous-looking person when attired in a rich silk galabeah, or fine cloth breeches and bolero.
When you lunch or dine out with residents, you are struck by the dignity and orderliness of their households in the hands of native menservants.
The footman is, I should say, not so rich in humours as the man-housemaid, who is the Egyptian servant that I know best, in his capacity of cabin-steward or hotel bedroom boy.
At one hotel I found Hassan polishing the floor with the Wren's paste I had taken out for cleaning my brown boots. It acted so well that, coming into my bedroom with a loaded tea-tray, he slid over on its glassy surface, and spoilt it with scalding tea and broken china.
Huntley & Palmer's biscuits are his greatest comfort. He does not have to waste his afternoons in cutting thin bread-and-butter, because the Anglo-Egyptian puts up with biscuits for afternoon tea. And if the tourist wishes to have breakfast uncomfortably early, he has not to hunt up the baker, and get the butter off the ice ; he simply produces biscuits.
He can clean boots well : he is noted for the resplendence of his own. But he often kills two birds with one stone by leaving yours uncleaned. The hotel people, he says, will not give him any stuff to clean them with. You either expostulate with the manager, or, if you are idle, give him money to buy some. He avoids blame, and lays up a store of nugget, black or brown, for his own use, or sells it back to the shop.
That is one of his ways of getting bakshish. He is not so ill-mannered as to ask for it, and is politely grateful for the smallest mercies in this direction.
ENTLEMEN,” said the Governor of Damietta, "al
ways live in flats or hotels. The other class live in pensions sometimes." I asked him what he meant by the other class. He said, “Oh, clerks, and people in shops." They too, of course, live for the most part in cheaper houses and flats, though the number of pensions is growing in Egypt now, and gentlemen, when they are married, often have houses, and not flats. The Governor's enunciation therefore comes down to this, that the well-off young man who is not married would not like to be seen at a pension. The Governor forgot the man who lives at the club; but there is not accommodation for very many, though a great many take their meals there by contract.
At the Turf Club at Cairo, which is the most popular in Egypt, a man can have a bedroom and board, including everything but drinks and washing, for £12 a month. And he can have all his meals there, without a bedroom, for £6 a month.
Living in Egypt is decidedly expensive. Ten pounds in London is equal to twenty pounds in Cairo on a small salary, but five hundred a year in England is not equal to a thousand a year in Egypt.) A young engineer I knew, who had eleven pounds a month when he left England, began at thirty pounds a month in Egypt. But the unfortunate clerk, who gets eight pounds a month in England, might not get more than twelve pounds in Egypt, where high pay only goes with positions of responsibility. A clerkship is not considered a