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descended past a tiny, modern cemetery and rode back to the landing.
And what a chaffering was there! Assiut shawls had cheapened visibly since morning. Rawhide whips were quoted weaker. A panic had swept the pipebowl and pottery market. Mummy-beads were off at least three points. Amulets, charms, figurines, and the omnipresent scarab could be had almost for the asking.
Some people will be so unkind as to tell you, no doubt, as they told us, that these so-called Assiut shawls are made in Vienna, or in Connecticut. But why believe that? Do they not look truly Oriental ? Are they not, at all events, sold in Assiut? Have they not there a magnificence such as is revealed at no other spot on earth ? Are they not of a weight and fineness nowhere else paralleled ? What if your cigarette-holder of red clay turns out to be unprovided with any orifice through which to inhale — even as mine has done? Did you not buy it at Assiut of blessed memory? Are not the mummy-beads and scarabs of Assiut at least as genuine as those of any other locality? What matters it? In short, “ma'alish!” The one important thing is to feel that one has driven a good bargain with those swarthy captains of industry on the bank.
I gather from T. at our table, a Briton frankly com
mercial, that those heavy net-and-silver shawls are valued according to weight, “so that all you need know is what they weigh and what is the proper price per gram.” A little calculation will then reveal what you ought to pay. Nobody, however, ever does know all that, and nobody ever stops to figure it up until long after — when the proper data can be got. And when it is done, the inevitable result will be that Mahmoud on the mudbanks of Assiut is shown not to have sacrificed aught.
To-night the steamer is still tethered to the wharf. We are awaiting the mail and some belated passengers by train from Cairo. Meantime there is still chaffering going on over the side. We have all acquired rawhide whips, which we are advised to leave hanging outside our rooms, as with time and confinement they will tend to exhale a disagreeable odor unless they have been properly tanned. Whether mine has been or not I don't know — but I suspect that several bothersome small boys up river will be within a few days, whatever be true of the whips. But let that pass. It is evidently time we were all in bed!
CHAPTER XI. ON TO DENDERA M A RCH 4. A terrible thing happened to-day to
W the valet of the Austrian count — the same who at Beni Hassan fell half off his donkey and could get neither up nor down. He has hitherto sported some amazing side-whiskers — but to-day they are no more. It seems that during the forenoon, while we were steaming steadily up river with nothing much to do, he saw fit to make use of the opportunity to visit the barber-shop for the shaving of such portions of his fat visage as are permitted to remain innocent of hair. Unfortunately, whilst the barber plied his ministering art, the ship ran full upon an unsuspected sandbar, throwing everybody down, and by a sudden slip of the razor, one half of those luxuriant Burnsides we're so proud of were sliced off neatly at one fell swoop.
Auguste, for I believe that's what the Graf calls him, sprang from the chair, dashed across the upper