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navigation is correspondingly difficult for boats of much burthen.
Our stateroom is down below where all the double rooms are. Most of it is below the waterline. It boasts one large window, from which one looks out over a waste of muddy waters. It has two real beds, each clamped to the floor and equipped with mosquito netting; likewise a double washstand and a capacious closet. Even so there is almost room enough in it for a dance. The Professor, who is with us, has a single room on the deck above. He, too, would have plenty of room if it were not for the water — that is to say, drinking-water, of which the Professor has providently laid in a large supply. The “Ship" insists that if he must have his own private drink he must keep it in his room. He is, in consequence, an inspiring sight, entirely surrounded by gallons and gallons of “Source Cachat” — a sort of human island in a sea of bottles. Meantime I observe on the main deck rows of huge filters in latticed boxes, the same designed to supply great quantities of "môyeh Nil” — Nile water — in a proper state of purification, and I suspect we shall all end by drinking it, despite the fact that we are so abundantly provisioned.
We got away promptly at ten this forenoon to the tune of much chantey-music in the fo'c'sle. I foresee that the antics of the crew are to be among the interesting things on this voyage, for nothing is ever done without the accompaniment of song, no matter if it is only the overhauling of a rope. Six brawny Arabs are even now laying down a huge hawser on the deck outside, grunting “Mahmoud | Mahmoud !” in a rhythmic, growling bass as they sway to and fro. A villainous-looking pirate with a single eye is washing himself at the common tank forward, preparing, no doubt, to pray. From all appearances neither the ablution nor the prayer will be amiss.
Some delay occurred at the upper bridge which spans the Nile something like a mile and a half above Cairo's chief landing-stage, and which serves to convey the tram cars from the city to the pyramids. As a bridge it serves no other observable purpose, and one of my Cairo friends has recommended the centre of it to me as a quiet spot in which to read. If grass grew anywhere in Egypt without constant care, it might well be in the midst of this deserted structure which gave the steamer so much trouble this noon. Handling a craft as large as the Egypt in a narrow draw, hardly wider than her beam, and against a good stiff current is a task of some little difficulty but we managed it somehow to everybody's admiration under the voluble direction of a swart pilot in a turban high aloft in a birdcage of a pilothouse. Once past the bridge we went along rejoicing toward Bedreschein, the landing for Sakkâra.
It was during the progress of an early luncheon that we had our first taste of the eloquence of our official dragoman -Raschid. It required some little time for him to get everybody quieted down, but when he finally succeeded he gave us a speech about what was going to happen in the afternoon, beginning, “Now, my ladies and my gentlemen, if you please," and ending with an appealing vision of a “good cup of tea” which would be found waiting on our return. I listened unmoved, for I had no intention of going to Sakkâra to-day. I've been. Moreover I've walked every step of the way, to and from, in a sand-storm. I know that it is all of six miles up and fully as much back. I feel no incentive to add to what little knowledge I already have of the ancient cemetery of Memphis, the fruits of which I have already set down in writing. Seriously speaking, Sakkâra is entirely too splendid a place to be seen in the hurry and bustle of a Cook's party mustering seventy strong. But the Professor had n't been to Sakkâra, being newly arrived in Egypt, and Katrina agreed to go along and take care of him. In fact, they have already gone. As for me, I write.
I did manage to board a donkey and ride him out to the site of the ancient city for one more look at the colossi of Rameses now lying prone under the trees which mark the site of Memphis. Hence I had a foretaste of what our Nile expeditions are destined to be. We made an imposing array as we swarmed along the bank — riding along, seventy strong, bumping into one another and belaboring our steeds, jabbering the while in a various language, for among our seventy are all sorts and conditions. To think that we, after all we have said and written, should at last be following the Man from Cook's !
For the third time within a month I have traversed the road up from the river, through the mud village of Bedreschein and out across the gisr — and I shall forever associate the memory of it with the thought of a sand-laden gale. For the khamasin, as before, was our portion. It sprang up at noon, and by the time we were well on our way to the palm groves of Memphis it was blowing full and strong. I am glad now as I sit in the close-shut smoke-room of the Egypt recording these words that I did not again assail Sakkâra; and I can only pity Katrina and the Professor, begoggled as they are, beating against that blast from the Sahara in the midst of a hurrying host. To have ridden out to the colossi is proving to have been quite sufficient for a first essay. I suppose I rode altogether not more than four miles this afternoon on the ridgepole of a scrawny donkey, but as I sit here I am made aware that to attempt more would have been unwise. Some historian informs us that Henry VII was “almost constantly in the saddle," and adds that "so restless was he that he seldom sat down at meals.” I can readily believe it. There was a reason!
I had the inevitable fight with the muleteer, on returning alone to the ship, over the undying question of backsheesh. The rascal demanded as usual thrice the fee, and when denied made moan. He called me “Pasha," "
,"“Governor," “Prinz," “Good-Kind-MisterAmerican," and other endearing terms, and finally broke down and wept bitterly. It was a magnificent bit of acting — the wretch! And when he found that it had no effect he broke into a sunny smile and went away - perfectly content.
The others came straggling back through the dust at about five of the clock, and that cup of tea was very welcome, I have no doubt. They came tumbling down over the steep bank of the river, pretty well blown and grimy with the sand, headed by a wonderful old lady of rising eighty years, who hails from the Blue Grass, and who utterly refused to be balked of her canter by such little things as sand and gale. Heaven give more of us her spirit! She came back in rather better condition than did Katrina and the Professor, who struggled down to the boat attended by the usual army