Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

MARO

ARCH 4. A terrible thing happened to-day to

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

deck where we were all congregated looking at the scenery, and made a bee-line for the count's cabine de luxe. He was within — and from the recesses of the apartment, after a surprised pause, there came such a roar of Homeric laughter as I have seldom heard, mingled with the valet's anxious protests and a chorus of “Gott im Himmels !” and “Um Gotteswillens” – ending with the crestfallen emergence of Auguste, who repaired to the barber again to sacrifice his starboard muttonchop! In a trice 't was done - and the Nile has lost one of its most picturesque features for this voyage. But I must say that Auguste is vastly improved. He looks less like a Methodist Episcopal bishop of the old school than formerly, and it leaves the gentle Dean of St. Phylactery's in sole possession of the outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace. Auguste, however, does not realize it. He cannot reconcile himself to the idea that his appearance is exactly modest; and his shamefaced attitude recalls that of a pet poodle in summer when first clipped.

There is nothing to do to-day but look at the river, for we pass none of the notable sites. Nevertheless it has been one of our most wonderful days because of the increasing magnificence of the eastern cliffs, towering almost from the water's edge and rearing majestic summits against the sky. To my shame I

have never looked upon our own Grand Canyon, but I imagine the panorama of this day must in some degree have approximated it, more especially at sundown when the particolored veil of evening fell across the massive face of the stone and converted those tawny mountains into glowing gems of prismatic color prismatic but always pale under the indigo dome of the night.

It is a lazy life we lead on such days as this, but it is inexpressibly delightful; and the Professor, who is probably the most active man who ever held a sedentary post, is constantly referring in terms of glowing praise to what he is pleased to call “roughing it on the Nile."

This being Saturday we have had a dance on deck, while lying quietly at anchor in midstream opposite a town named, ineuphoniously, Sohâg. The crackedvoiced old piano has been mended with string, in some mysterious way, by the Herr Doktor Ritter von Schwartzenkopf, or whatever his name is,-a versatile young gentleman with a very charming "bride," as our gossips have called her for several days. Tonight it developed that she has a four-year-old boy at home! But in any case she dances divinely, and the Herr Ritter proves to be capable of extracting undreamed of harmonies from the instrument, now that he has mended its inward parts. The Austrian

Graf stood his trick at the keys also, like a man, and gave us the “Blue Danube," as became an exalted resident of Vienna. Later, when all the pianistic talent was seemingly exhausted, the old lady from the Blue Grass, she of the eighty summers and indomitable spirit, sat down at the keyboard and played as untiringly and as mechanically as a pianola until the lights went out.

So much for the pomps and vanities of this world. To-morrow the Dean is to preach in the forward cabin.

March 5. We have had our sermon, and the Dean outdid himself. I confess I do not now remember the exact text, but it was a moving discourse on the foibles of modern society - dress, and especially dancing. I suspected the presence of a twinkle in the ecclesiastical eye when he considered the latter folly, in view of the experiences of last evening. Of course there was a collection, — for the hospital at Luxor, and while it was not large it will hopefully be bettered next Sunday when we have another service, conducted, as usual, by the Dean. I find him, on smoking-room acquaintance, to be a delightful man, by the way, - one whose travels have been extensive, who knows and delights in America, and who tells a story inimitably.

Since church there has been nothing to do but loll on the warm decks and see the panorama unfold itself -- the gigantic cliffs, the palm-clad banks with their mud towns and lofty pigeon towers, the tireless creaking of the shadoufs. The landing for Abydos we have passed without a call, leaving it for the down-trip, and noting as we passed only its deep intervale of spreading green.

This afternoon we passed the railroad bridge which conveys the line to the eastern shore at another of those cacophonously named towns — Nag Hamadi. I note that sugar refineries of a modern aspect begin to be very common along these upper reaches, intruding lofty steel chimneys that sort curiously with the landscape. By sundown we made our mooring for the night at the landing-stage of Dendera, not far from the ancient temple. Opposite lies the considerable town of Keneh, the usual alighting-place of such travelers as come to Dendera by rail. Such, no doubt, have small difficulty in securing ferrymen and beasts for the journey to the temple, but it is surely easier to tie up, as we have done, within two miles of the shrine and on the same side of the stream.

Dendera seems to me a charming name, well suited to the uses of the Egyptian Aphrodite — for such I like to believe Hathor to have been. Already we have had a glimpse of her distant pylon in the ruddy

« PreviousContinue »