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type, we may be sure that he came to dwell in the land of Goshen many hundred years after Cheops had built his pyramid, and doubtless saw, as we see now, those three gigantic piles towering across the level fields. When it was that Joseph served in Pharaoh's court we may not safely say, but at least the history of the grand viziers is entirely consistent with all that the Bible story claims for his power and dignity. As for Moses and the Exodus, let us assume that the latter occurred in the reign of Merenptahalthough it does some violence to the Biblical account. The Pharaoh's body, at any rate, has survived to us and cannot have perished in the reflux of the Red Sea. Just as certainly we must conclude that Moses never led forth any such multitude as the legend affirms. But it is entirely probable that a large body of Israelites actually was led back to Palestine ; and it is not improbable that because of a wind or other cause it was able to cross dry-shod the bed of some of the shallow and “bitter" lakes that still exist near the verges of the Red Sea. Equally certain is the truth of the story of the bricks without straw, samples of which we may still see in the treasure-houses of the Ramessid period.
It is this tendency to make our venerable Bible and the Greek classics seem young that is the really imposing thing about Egyptian antiquity. What we have been prone to regard as books of enormous age are suddenly revealed to be much more youthful than most of the Egyptian monuments. Assuming that the siege of Troy really occurred at about the year 1194 B.C., a time of which the Greek tales are more than half mythology, it seems a very recent date when compared with the first introduction of the Egyptian calendar. By the age of Troy the really important part of Egyptian history was over and done with. We have the record in imperishable stone of events a thousand years older than Achilles. Whether Homer himself ever existed men disagree - but we have no doubt of Menes. Mycenæ, rich in gold, and the age to which she gave her name, can hardly go back to the time of the Sakkâra tombs. The palace of the Cretan Minos was built when Zoser's Step Pyramid was centuries old. And when Jesus taught by Galilee, the body of Amenhotep, still preserved to us, had lain for fourteen centuries
Yown introduction to the great pyramids took
place under conditions so satisfactory that I venture to recommend the same circumstances to others as affording the best possible setting for the experience. It was by moonlight.
We had designedly postponed the visit to Ghizeh, although the huge forms of the pyramids had tempted us by their grandeur for many days, as they revealed themselves in the dim distance across the meadows; and it was only on the full of the moon, on a gloriously crisp and clear February night, that we finally sought the tram line and began the journey to their feet.
By the way, let us not be too severe on the tram. It is a rather incongruous form of conveyance, to be sure, - or seems so at present, — more especially as it whirls along a road that is still trodden by the leisurely camel and the patient ass, as it was in the brave days of old. Nevertheless it is a decided convenience, and it is surely no more to be deplored than the taxicab of Cairo which superior persons are wont to employ at great cost to convey them to the tombs of Cheops and Khephrên. Decrying the tram has long been a fad with the finical, who fail to see in it a mere bowing to modern progress no more to be regretted than is the erection of a first-class hotel in the very shadow of the Great Pyramid. Two thousand years hence, the traveler from New Zealand will doubtless be decrying some other new contrivance and sighing for the good old days when men rode out to Ghizeh in the romantic trolley car.
It was dusk when we neared the spot. The line had led along the verges of a canal, the surface of which was as placid as glass, giving back the sunset's gorgeous gold. Against the glowing background of the west the pyramids stood huge and purple, and their inverted images smiled up from the watery pools that lay along the track. Long trains of weary camels strode silently by in the dusk, which in the dense shadow of the lebbakhs beside the line was, already giving presage of the gloom of night.
Now there was on the car a smooth-spoken Arab who invited himself, contrary to all regulations, into the compartment reserved for passengers, and who
besought us to retain him as guide, philosopher, and friend. He said his name was Hassan, which was probably the only word of truth that had escaped the portal of his teeth that day. He possessed two trusty camels stationed near the Mena House - one of them warranted to be the best for a lady to ride to be found in all Egypt. The price would be two shillings- including everything. We were new to Egypt, and believed.
There is about as much need of a camel to ride out to the Sphinx as there is of a life-preserver in the midst of the Sahara. The distance is not great and the walking, though over sands, is not bad. Still doubtless one must ride on a camel sometime—and it might as well be now. Wherefore we booked with Hassan and gave solemn pledge not to forget him, which seemed at the moment a rather needless procedure, but one which later we had cause to understand. Thus satisfied, Hassan cooed on contentedly in a voice lubricated by centuries of date-eating. To think ill of him was impossible. Tones like his would soothe a dying bed — and dwindle, and change, and blend into the music of the spheres by slow degrees.
Nevertheless, all through a very excellent dinner at the hotel the spectre of that camel ride sat on my shoulder and served to add a wholly superfluous element of awe to an occasion already solemn. We had