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master said that “the engine was scampering single and got into collusion with an ox (female).”
When a new engineer-in-chief came to Egypt he was surprised to find that they had twenty-six Schneider engines. He wanted to know why they had chosen this particular brand, and why they were entered on the list of plant as twenty-seven. He found that, in the days of Ismail Pasha, the beautiful Madame Schneider had come to Cairo and created a furore in a comic opera. Ismail cast his eye on her, and told his secretary what he wanted. The secretary was an ass, and thought that Ismail wished to meet Schneider the engine-manufacturer, who also was in Cairo. When the great manufacturer was shown into his presence, Ismail was dumbfounded till he learnt who he was. But he was sharp enough to try and put a good face on matters, so he said, " I sent for you to order some of your famous engines !"
“How many ?" asked M. Schneider.
And Ismail said, “Twenty-seven," the first number that came into his head.
How there came to be only twenty-six was that the natives had helped themselves, bit by bit, to all the removable parts of one of them, and had covered over the remainder with sand when they were making a new siding.
Mr. Rouse, the railway engineer who erected the Kafr-ezZayyat Bridge, received a solatium of £10,000 for his trouble, and brought a lawsuit to recover a further indemnity, and won it. There never was such a pagoda-tree as Ismail Pasha. Nowadays a Government official is considered lucky if he can get his pay without shamming illness or threatening a lawsuit. If he is really ill his friends apply for his post.
R. suggested that this reminder should be written large to hang before every official: "I was not given this post by divine agency, or even by the British Agency, and I am little better than my superiors.”
R. started schools for the children of railway employees. He was warned by European and native friends of the risks that he was incurring, and told that good Moslems would not allow a Christian to interfere with the education of their children. But the Moslem parents showed better knowledge of their religion than their critics did, for they hailed the schools with joy, sent their children freely, paid for them being taught, and constantly thanked R. for what he had done. They were so much the less fanatical than he was that they did nothing to prevent the children learning anything, whereas he did his best to prevent them being taught to learn the Koran by heart until they could say their alphabet.
One village boy laughed when R. asked him if he was learning arithmetic. “Sir, no," he said; “I am going to be a Fikee," which means a scholar.
Once upon a time, when R. had a serious attack of some rheumatic complaint, they brought him a masseur who, in a very short time, completely cured him whether by the charms he repeated over him, or by faith healing. He would take no reward for his supernatural gifts, but in the end allowed R. to pay for the bottle of oil with which he had rubbed him, because, he said, that had no medicinal effect, only mechanical. He effected more cures than any of the doctors, but, unfortunately, has since died himself.
To show how inexact Egyptians are, the famous Kafr-ezZayyat accident is often quoted. It happened only fifty-one years ago, and the heir to the throne was killed in it, either by the machinations of his brother Ismail, the future Khedive, or by the most appalling carelessness. The exact day on which it happened has been completely forgotten, and there is a detail mentioned in connection with it which would not have happened until two years after the accident actually did happen. De Leon, who lived years in Egypt, speaks of the Nile Bridge being open, and the train falling through it into the roaring abyss. The bridge was not built until two years afterwards, and the Nile only roars at high Nile, when it almost comes up to the bridge, so that if it had been roaring the train would have had no distance to fall. Without doubt, the accident happened either on the 13th or 16th day of May, 1858. McCoan says the 13th, others declare that it happened on Sunday, the second day of
Bairam, which that year fell on May 16. In any case, there was no bridge, and the accident happened by the carriage in which Prince Achmet, the heir to the throne, was seated, being run over the end of the steam ferry. R. declares that it was the purest accident, that there were absolutely no grounds for supposing that Ismail Pasha was in any way responsible. He tried to get particulars about it; but the son of the Pasha, who held the inquiry, told him that he was sure that his father would not be willing to remember such a lamentable affair ; and yet the man, who was responsible for Mr. Dicey saying that it happened through the bridge being left open, was actually stationmaster at Kafr-ez-Zayyat at the time of the accident. In any case, the accident cost Egypt Arabi's rebellion, and the British Occupation, and a hundred million sterling in Ismail Pasha's debts. It is said to have happened by too many people helping the royal railway carriage on to the ferry in their anxiety to show their loyalty.
One can hardly credit the proverb "Too many cooks” in Egypt, because no Egyptian would believe that it was possible to have too many “cooks.” The burning desire of every town on the Nile is to have a Cook, i.e. an office of Thomas Cook & Son.
R. had a clerk who did not hear very well, and he had reason to believe that he was not honest either; so he went out one morning and returned suddenly ; he found his clerk with the cash-box open before him, groping inside it. He did not hear R.'s footsteps, so they both had a very good look-R. at him and he at the box. And R. had time to go and get a cane, with which he pointed out the enormity of the act. To prevent the servant taking any steps to summon him for the beating, he went to the police himself and tried to get him run in. When the police came the clerk said that he was only dusting the inside of the cash-box-a sublime Egyptianism. The police asked if R. could swear to the piastres which were found in his clerk's pocket. As he knew that he had had twenty new two-piastre pieces in his box, and some of the money was still in the little roll in which you get it from Egyptian banks, R. identified it at once, and thought it was all right. Then the police said that they could do nothing unless there were two witnesses to the deed who could "write European." This difficulty too was got over somehow, and the man was taken to prison ; but they had not a vacancy in the prison, so they had to let him go. All R. could do was to dismiss him, and the next day he found he had been taken on in the Government office just opposite his own in the same administration. He went to see who had taken him on, and found that it was one of his own insubordinates, the Frenchman who came next to him in rank in his office. “All part of the same old farce,” was R.'s comment.
If a man thieved too awfully in those days the Government dismissed him and gave him a much higher place in another department. A carpenter whom R. had discharged for stealing became an inspecting engineer. Every Egyptian wants to be an overseer, and thinks himself qualified to be an overseer in a business which he does not understand in the least. He does not see why an overseer should understand the business he is inspecting.
But one has heard something rather like this in England. We had a greengrocer and coal-merchant who, curiously enough, did not increase his income by going out as a waiter, in a second-hand suit of dress clothes too large for him, in the evening Something went wrong in our flat on a Saturday night, and as I knew this greengrocer had been the foreman while the flats were building, I toid the caretaker to go and fetch him to see if he knew how to put it right. "Bless you, sir, he doesn't understand anything about it," said the caretaker ; "that wasn't his business, they had another foreman for that. But he is good with his fists, he is, and his job was to pick a quarrel with any workman who was giving trouble.” He was a paid bully. The result is that the flats were very well built, and the proprietor recommended all his tenants to buy their coal (he did not mention the greengroceries—that would have been an infringement of the liberty of the subject) at the little shop which the bully started on the opposite side of the Marylebone Road.
There is another side to the shield; the gratitude of the Egyptian is sometimes almost as embarrassing as his dishonesty. When Agenoria came home to the palace, which she had bought from the Pasha, she generally found somebody loafing about the garden with a couple of gazelles or a couple of flamingoes, or some turkeys. They dumped them down till the garden was a regular Zoo and would not hold any more live stock. Gazelles were frequent; they are in the Zoo at Cairo now, all of them. These were from people who had deceived Cromwell Rhodes into doing some job for them-a form of conscience-money.
Even the animals become narve in Egypt. Agenoria had one horse who, when he was put in the carriage, if the coachman left him, used to get tired of waiting and drag the carriage to the front door, and ring the bell with its mouth. This horse had a regular game with one of the dogs whenever it was loose. He would bite the dog's nose gently, and the dog would tear all round the garden and come back and have its nose bitten again, until one of them was wanted.
The visitors who go to the Fayum are always much interested in the basket-makers and crate-makers. You often see them working in the streets, and they seem to have four hands, because they are so handy with their toes. It is here that the baskets called mahteil or zambeel, according to their size, are made, in which the Egyptian transports the soil if he is excavating a temple or making a railway embankment. The Government departments use immense numbers of them, which are bought through middlemen, who make much more than the poor people who manufacture them. R. thought that he would like to break down this system, so he took his sleeping-car up to the Fayum and interviewed the people who made them, and endeavoured to place the orders for the railway department with them direct. But he failed absolutely; the basket-makers would have nothing to do with him, though he went and saw a