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The Turkish ladies themselves wear that resplendent mantle, that pork-pie of lawn and flowers, that quite diaphanous yashmak, which can yet be very hot when it is pinned to the back, over European dress. And the better looking the lady the more diaphanous the yashmak. In Constantinople it is reported that, since the success of the Young Turk, the ladies are doing without veils altogether.
When all the guests arrived, they were escorted by a lot of slaves, various men and women, blackies and others, to the river, where the dahabeah was waiting. They went on board. It was a broiling hot day. Poor Agenoria was dressed in all these smothery things, and, on the top of that, the Princess insisted on her going down into the cabin till all the native guests had come on board. She heard the Princess greeting people as they rustled down with their slaves. After about twenty others had arrived, the Italian Consul-General's wife came, the only other European lady. She wore her own dress.
Then the Princess came and "fished out” Agenoria. What was the unfortunate victim to do? She could not speak Turkish, so it was decided that she was to be dumb; her voice would have given her away. When she came out, there was such a nudging, staring, and whispering as to who she was.
Then the dahabeah began to go down the river, and the band struck up. It was behind meshrebiya screens ; but the bandsmen and the ladies could see each other perfectly well.
They sailed down the river for about an hour, and then the ladies went down to lunch in a very gorgeous cabin, very stuffy. There was gold plate to eat off; but there were shoddy slaves about to wait on them—the whole shipful was very extraordinary. One old lady, the Pasha's aunt, drank an immense amount of beer, and got redder and redder in the face. They all had such a feast : the ladies drank beer mixed with champagne, whisky, etc., and began to get rowdy. Then they had coffee and very big cigarettes.
Agenoria had disclosed her identity before this ; the
disguise was too hot to keep up. They were immensely tickled by it. When they saw any men in boats, if they were only fishermen, the whole of the Pasha's ladies waddled to the side, and stared over at them. Old Khadijah, the Pasha's aunt, kept jumping up and looking through the meshrebiya at the band. Not content with that, she began prodding them through the meshrebiya with her hat-pins. Agenoria tried to restrain her, and told her that it was “ infra dig. to lark about" with common men. But the aunt was not to be restrained. She was enjoying herself so much that she began to get very hot, and to take her clothes off one by one. She had most of them off before she had finished. The band, who could see her perfectly well, pretended not to notice her or her hat-pins.
Then the dahabeah got stuck on a sand-bank, and things became very hot in every way). The Pasha's ladies began calling out, like servants from the back windows in flats, to the common men who passed. Agenoria was supposed to be a sort of keeper to the Pasha's wife. When subsequently that giddy lady eloped, old Khadijah came straight to Agenoria to ask where she had gone to; she would not believe that Agenoria had not been the go-between.
After all this, Agenoria said that there was no special incident about the picnic—"it was all so disjointed and foolish-certainly not refined or 'tony,' the way they went on.” Old Khadijah got redder and redder in the face, and peeled off more yashmaks and jackets; the others went down into the cabin and put on the shabby pink flannel dressing-gowns which they had made their slaves bring. They had shown their finery to their friends and now wished to be comfortable.
One day on a tramway Agenoria met the Naughty Princess dressed in the black habara of a common woman. When the other people had left the car, the Princess told Agenoria that she had been out to the Pyramids to meet some one.
One summer night, out on the road to the Pyramids, Agenoria and her husband were having a walk, when the Princess and her attendants passed them in a brake. They
pulled up and got out, and the Princess went for a walk with Agenoria and her husband, while the whole troupe of ladies waddled after her.
Another day the Naughty Princess came to call on Agenoria. It is not etiquette to admit anybody else when a Princess is calling—especially no man. They were seated in one of the drawing-rooms, the Princess, Agenoria, and her niece Elaine, chattering sixty miles an hour, when they heard a man's footstep coming towards the door which led from another room. But it was only Sæur Véronique, a naughty old Belgian nun. So Agenoria asked the Princess if she might come in. The Princess knew her, and said “Certainly.” The nun was one of those who add to the gaiety of nations. Suddenly Sæur Véronique, feeling that she ought to act up to her reputation, said to the niece Elaine : “You dress up in my things," and slipped them off. She then went into the hall and seized the Princess's yashmak and brocade mantle. They were an extraordinary blend with the thick hob-nailed boots which had made the ladies think a man was coming into the room, and the round bullet-head, like a man's, with the hair cropped short. The Princess went off into peals and shrieks of laughter ; she was positively rolling with laughter, when suddenly a very sedate lady well known in Cairo society appeared at the door. “Go back, go back," shouted Agenoria ; “ go away, take her away." It was not until the mystified lady was out on the front-door step that she realised that a Princess was calling. It sounded more like a pillow-fight.
The same Sæur Véronique was a very capable old lady ; even the wily Egyptian was no match for her. She used to go round all the Government offices, making collections for the fund for a Franciscan school. The pasha at the Board of Works sternly refused, so she made him an indirect contributor. She gave him an order to erect a good workshop and a very fine fence for the school; she allowed him to quote a high price for it and left him in high spirits. She never meant to pay him, and she never did. It was part of her fun: she was bubbling over with sheer frolicking fun, and