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the attitude of an unconcerned bystander with marvellous aplomb, to watch the boab come out.
Once when he was going to do this the lid flew up, followed by a black jack-in-the-box; probably a man who had been a victim already. The Egyptians liked these games; they found it an easy way of making money. Lavercombe, after the way of his kind, was generous in tips to his victims; and the Egyptian can see the funny side of things. He can sleep anywhere : the top of a wall the width of his body will do. Nothing wakes an Egyptian boy when he is asleep. There was a Belgian in Cairo who used to boast that he had often taken his boy up, when he was asleep, and dropped his head on a stone to try if he could wake him, but that he had never succeeded. One of the triumphs of the evening was to bargain with the arbaghi (the cabman) while your friends were undoing the traces. Then you jumped into the cab, and the arbaghi cracked his whip, and the horses pulled him off the box.
Another tour de force was to go to the fancy-dress ball dressed as policemen, and arrest all the people who couldn't understand a joke. Lavercombe scored a still greater success in the same line, by coming down, when the Savoy fancydress ball was at its height (and all the people were sitting about in the little rooms, and round corners, and behind evergreens) attired only in a dressing-gown, with his bath towel and a sponge. He poked his nose in everywhere, and pretended to the couples he surprised that he was looking for the bathroom. There were some scares.
Tête-à-tête assignations and elopements were the order of the day. A young beauty for whom Lavercombe had a strong but unsuccessful admiration said to him :
“ You have to invent some lie to get mother out of the way, so that I can get away with this person "--refering to some one in the army.
The mother was in one carriage with Lavercombe and the beauty and “that person " were in another. The mother was trying to keep her eye on them as they drove round and round Ghezira. Lavercombe did not feel that he could go to the length of telling the mother a deliberate lie, so he thought he would try the coachman; he asked him in Arabic, which mamma could not understand, “Can't you get the carriage to break down ?"
Sir, that is quite easy,” said the coachman. “I can take the wheel off to see what is the matter with it.” They took it off, and kept it off, till the beauty and the person in the army had got safely away.
One of the best pieces of deceitfulness, which Cromwell Rhodes ever perpetrated, was thrust upon him. He went out to lunch with a friend. After lunch, the friend asked him if he would like to go for a ride. He had not ridden for fortyfive years, but having been brought up in the Colonies he said “ Yes.”
The friend put him on a horse that went sideways down the street-the kind of horse that looks at you with his ears. The horse finally shot him into the verandah of another friend named Rolles, who had just come back from his summer holiday in England. R. was picking himself up when Mr. Rolles came out and, not knowing how he had got there, said:
" It's very good of you to call so soon; Mrs. Rolles only arrived this afternoon-she is still sitting on her boxes."
When R. got on his horse again to go home, it bolted right between Lord and Lady Cromer as they were out for a quiet ride.
They used to have great floods in Cairo in those days. Once, when Agenoria and her niece Elaine were outside the Continental, a huge storm came up. Soon the road was a foot deep in water; the Egyptian women took off their clothes to cross it. Agenoria and the niece were going to church, and they had nearly got there when the water came pouring from a side-street right through the carriage. Elaine did not mind her clothes being spoilt, it was so much more exciting than going to church.
Cairo has some drains; though just as you can take a horse to the water but can't make him drink, so you can lay down a system of draining in Egypt, but you can't
make the Greek householder "join up.” He loves his cesspool. Even in Alexandria, where there is a tax for drains, you can't make the householders of minor nationalities use them.
One of the great ceremonies in Cairo used to be the cutting of the Khalig, which meant letting the Nile flood into the canal which ran through the city past the Governorat. Once upon a time there was an annual human sacrifice to the Nile, for which a beautiful young virgin was chosen, and her family thought it a very high honour. But in the last days of the Khalig, which has now been filled up and turned into a tram-route, the sacrifice had degenerated into an old dahabeah and a guy. However, the Nile got its sacrifice all the same, for there were always about twenty people drowned in the course of the day.
They used to have operetta with big troupes at the Eldorado café. Lavercombe, with what he called a lot of chirpy people, went there one night, and laughed uproariously at mild jokes of their own, till the Egyptian waiter came up and said:
“ You musn't laugh like that." “Why?" they asked.
And he replied: "There is something wrong in the piece, but we haven't come to it yet.”
He then began telling them a long story about the trouble the son of Mrs. Bond had got into for creating the same kind of disturbance. “Why do you say the son of Mrs. Bond ?" they asked.
And he replied: "Because the father had darker hair than the mother," which was certainly a very delicate way of expressing the colour of Mrs. Bond's lover.
Lavercombe was a person of exasperating coolness. He had distinguished himself by some exceptional practical joke at Shepheard's Hotel Carnival. The manager, who did not know him personally, came up to him, purple in the face, and said :
"I believe your name is Lavercombe."
anything.” The manager, who was familiar with the timehonoured joke, “ I believe your name is Smith,” was abashed and went away.
Every one is familiar with the story of the man who said to another man,“ My name is Smith,” and the other man's reply: "I remember your name, but I don't remember your face." This is a common formula with Egyptians who don't like confessing that they don't know anything.
If you want to see real importance, there is nothing for it like the smaller fry of consuls in Cairo. There was a Swedish consul-general, a fine figure of a man, blown up like a balloon with conceit. He called on Agenoria (followed by a cavasse, in a gold-laced livery, carrying his sword), to show her the uniform he had been wearing at a levee.
" My niece cannot come down; she is not very well,” said Agenoria.
The Consul made a rush for the staircase.
“Where are you going?" asked the scandalised Agenoria. And the Consul replied in perfect good faith :
"I thought it might cheer her up if I went to see her in my uniform."
The Humours of the Country Egyptian
HE country Egyptian is a weird, though kindly and
generally estimable person; he is nothing if not literal. Cromwell Rhodes was one day fetched to see a boy who had just been bitten by a cerastes, the venomous horned viper of Egypt which made Cleopatra cease from troubling. He lanced the place and injected manganese crystals, and told them not on any account to let the boy go to sleep till he (himself) came back from his work in a few hours' time. As it happened, there was an accident on the line in the course of the day, and he was sent for. It kept him away for five days, and he did not think of sending a message to the relatives of the snake-bitten boy, because he was engrossed with the seriousness of the accident. When he did
When he did get back they asked him to come and see the boy because he was dying. As soon as he saw him he knew that the child was only dying from want of sleep: that the effects of the snakebite had all gone. On inquiring, he found that they had kept him awake for the whole five days by stabbing him with a needle. He at once ordered the boy to be left alone, and, after about a week's sleep, he completely recovered.) It would be most unsafe to be bitten by a snake in that district now.
Once upon a time he had to ride several miles through a quarry in the wilds, to which he was proposing to make a railway-—as there will be one to the famous porphyry quarries some day. At present all the good porphyry in the world is second-hand.
Agenoria and her husband rode on staid little donkeys, but