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for good-adorable Luxor—with tears in our hearts, Joseph had very copious tears that looked extra large on his small, round face. He went without an entire day's work to hang round the steamer, inquiring if “she” had come on board, and Cook's dragoman wasted most of his day in turning Joseph off the steamer. When “she” did come on board finally, Joseph had just been shoo'ed away, but “she” saw him damping the dust-really damping the dust. Joseph's tears were no effete tears of civilisation--they actually dropped and splashed in the dust. “She" had the good grace to step on to the wharf, and Joseph stooped, like a Frenchman of the old régime, over her hand, which she gave him to shake, but which he felt compelled to kiss. And Joseph was a very graceful person.
He was very frank. He prefered, he said, waiting on the English ladies-American ladies were much harder and talked from their necks, refering, I suppose, to nasality, and not to any fatuity in their remarks: he also disliked their noses. He put Germans bottom on the list. He did not give us any of the stereotyped reasons for German unpopularity. His objection to them was that they never stopped when they got on a donkey-a charge which I should have thought was quite untrue; they are so very minute in their archæological studies from the original. I think his mind always ran on one particular German, whom we had recommended to employ him while we were away. “ That gentleman," he said, “who went on Gingerbread, he fly. I catch him as he came out of Der-el-Bahari.” The point of this is better appreciated by those who know that Der-el-Bahari is several miles from the landing, at the very back of the wide plain of Thebes.
Foreigners may seem rather exacting to donkey-boys : they are riding on the donkeys, and the boys are running after them. One day as I came out of the Temple of Medinet-Habu, a man offered me a beautiful mummy-head. I did not buy it, because he would not bargain; but when was a mile and a half away I repented, so I cantered back for it. I wonder now what Joseph thought at having to
go the mile and a half back again to the place I had repented.
It was near here that Joseph attempted to deceive me. “ Joseph," I said, “ how long will it take us to get to Der-elBahari?" “Sir, half an hour,” said Joseph, in the hopes that I should not go to Der-el-Bahari. I knew it would not take as much as that, so we went, and got there in five minutes. “Joseph," I said, "why did you tell me that silly lie about Der-el-Bahari being half an hour away?" He said, "Sir, if you had walked it would have taken you longer." Which was true, as the road was soft sand and the temperature about ninety in the shade.
After this he left off trying to deceive me about distancesmore or less; he saw that I always tested his replies by the map, and could form a pretty good guess as to whether he was telling the truth or not. How he must have blessed the guide-books! He generally had to carry three, and my camera, and my military water-bottle, and anything I bought or picked up, such as a skull or the flint nodules of Thebes, which look so extraordinarily like human carving. I discovered that he put the purchases and keepsakes on the luncheon donkey in the lunch-basket. I was not likely to ask for them; but they were not always suitable to go with lunch.
You do donkey expeditions in Egypt in a very pleasant, picnicky way; you have plenty of servants, for each donkey has its donkey-boy, and besides the riding donkeys there is the lunch donkey, which carries everything you might want to eat or drink, and wraps, on the rare occasions when you want them in Egypt. The donkey-boys are pretty good guides, and, when they are accustomed to you, and know that you want to see everything of interest, you jog from point to point, and jump off (or not as the case may be) where the antiquities are thick; and where there are none the boys suggest a gallop. They are quite clever in timing an interval for lunch and at laying it, and behave very nicely while you are eating it. Good donkey-boys, like you get at Luxor, have often charming manners. We had one donkey
boy, whom Joseph generally included in the contract, who was not a boy at all, but a very interesting and very handsome man. His name was Mohammed. All our donkeyboys, except Joseph, seemed to be called Mohammed, and Joseph's name was not really Joseph—he had only adopted it for the convenience of English patrons.
Mohammed, when he was not donkey-boying, was the chief howling dervish of Luxor. He led all the surreptitious zikrs, and taught the young idea how to howl and roll its head in conventional dervish fashion. He invited us to go to a zikr one night; it was held in the camel stable, or rather the stable-yard of Joseph Hassan, the curio-seller. One of Joseph Hassan's servants, who had been examined by the Mamur to see if he should be taken for conscription, had been pronounced an imbecile or a hopeless invalid, or something which unfitted hiin to serve his country, and Joseph Hassan paid for a zikr, or a dervish performance, in honour of the auspicious event. There were very few regular dervishes there; but Mohammed, the donkey-boy, had made their exercises very popular in Luxor, and most of our donkey-boy friends were there, standing in a ring round three duplex lamps, intoning and rolling their heads in the vague hopes, I suppose, of going off into the proper frenzy. None of them did. Donkey-boys are too tough. But it was an interesting spectacle, and Mohammed looked magnificent as he led it.
I wished he was not such an awful swell out of business hours. I could not help giving such a hidalgo more than the proper amount of bakshish, and of course the others had to have it too. He ought to have been a dragoman; he spoke good English, and took a more intelligent interest in antiquities than the other donkey-boys.
He took me to the Bairam, which the donkey-boys call the Mohammedan Christmas, and made himself very useful because he knew I was anxious to photograph, and his religious position rendered him aware that in a place like Luxor, where the relations between the Arabs and English people are particularly good, I could photograph anything
so long as I did not get in the way, and was not illmannered.
With Mohammed beside me as mentor, I took many photographs of that splendid spectacle, of the long lines of white-robed figures prostrating themselves, and rising to their feet at this and the other point in the service, or kneeling while the incense-bearer walked down between them sprinkling; of the Sheikh delivering an impassioned address in front of the massed banners of white glowing with texts from the Koran in brilliant hues, and of the final march away with the banners floating in the wind. And under his guidance I went to the festival in the cemetery, later in the day, where I got some of the most humorous snapshots in my collection. There was nothing approaching sentiment there—nothing but shows and feasting
Arab donkey-boys, when they are employed regularly by the same people, are very attentive. As soon as they have bathed and put on clean clothes at the end of the day's ride, they generally come back and hang about the hotel if their patrons are inside, or accompany them if they are going for a walk. Joseph always did this. And it was on these occasions that we gleaned some of the choicest flowers of his conversation. I heard him inquiring of the boy, who stood at the door of the hotel with the ostrich-feather boot-brush, about the Major and myself.
“Have they gone out yet, the tall little gentleman and the short big one?" I was the short big one. And he asked the Major one day, “Your mad gentleman friend, the short big gentleman, has he gone the other side ?” The other side meant Thebes, and the Tombs of the Kings, and such trifles. When the Major pretended not to understand him he said, “You know, the gentleman who says “I will,' I won't,' Get out!'Get away!'" imitating the tones in which I swore at Arabs, when they interrupted the notes I was taking with their inconsequent verbiage. He implied that the Arabs liked me better than any foreigner in Luxor, because they thought I was mad. Madness and saintship are much the same thing to Mohammedans.
It was a shock to exchange the courtly Joseph for the kind of donkey-boy you get at Abydos or Bedrashen, who makes his donkey go by poking him under the tail with the end of a stick, and always does make him go just when you are taking a photograph, or getting into a conversation you enjoy with a new acquaintance.
But, on the whole, I think that the donkey-boys of Egypt have been maligned. I found them a very satisfactory class, if one had the sense to arrange the bakshish as well as the fare beforehand. The bakshish is really part of the fare, and the boy is honestly anxious to please his employer.
I conclude this chapter with a copy of Joseph's card :
Donkey-boy No. 138,