During the three hours' ride to Jaffa the threatening clouds passed away, the sun re-appeared, the rough winds changed to soft breezes, and our depressed spirits rose correspondingly. By the time the orange groves in the suburbs of Jaffa came into sight, the tourists were in a gay and cheerful humor. But when we arrived at the pier of Jaffa, we discovered that the sea still felt the effects of the gale. The surf was rolling high and the angry waves were breaking violently over the ugly-looking rocks in the harbor, hiding them for an instant from view and sending the snowy spray high into the air. As we looked out toward the Moltke riding at anchor a mile away, many of the gay faces became sober. The boatmen holding the tossing boats to the pier urged us to embark.
"But timorous mortals start and shrink to cross the narrow sea, And linger trembling on the brink and fear to launch away"
"Oh, I cannot venture! Go without me! Leave me behind!" exclaimed one of the ladies, trembling and almost fainting through fear. "Those black rocks momentarily emerging and disappearing seem like the heads of terrible monsters waiting to devour us as soon as we come within their reach."
"Do not be alarmed," said one of the officials on the pier, encouragingly. "The sea, as you say, has a threatening look, but I assure you that if there were any danger we would not permit you to attempt the passage. These Syrian boatmen have been carrying passengers for years and know every rock in the harbor. They brought the Damascus tourists from the Moltke without mishap this morning when the sea was rougher than now. Trust the boatmen and you will soon be safely on board the steamer."
As our boat in its passage over the stormy billows plunged downward into the trough of the sea, and horizon, ship, and land were hidden from view, we thought that the uplifted, on-coming crests of the waves would engulf the boat beneath them; but, expertly handled by the trained rowers, the craft rose with each immense surge and safely passed the breakers. The Syrian boatmen, who had been continually chanting their hymns to Allah while plying their oars, suddenly stopped singing.
"Bachsheesh! Backsheesh!" they cried, ceasing to row, while one of them, doffing his fez, passed it around the boat for contributions. The passengers, grateful for safety, dropped their coins into the fez; again the oars were put in motion, the chant was resumed, and in a few minutes the boats were alongside the vessel.
Then came the difficulty of getting on board the steamer; for the little boat lay underneath the platform at the foot of the ship's ladder, tossed by the billows. As each heaving swell, however, bore the boat upward, two sturdy seamen on the platform, reaching down, grasped a passenger's arms and drew him up while the boatmen assisted from underneath. In this way, one with each wave, the tourists safely embarked. The passage from the pier to the steamer affected the tourists in various ways: many were frightened, notwithstanding the assertion of the official that the dangers were more apparent than real; others were exhilarated by the tossing waves and enjoyed the thrilling experience.
"I was so interested in watching the muscular development of the boatmen as they pulled at the oars, and in admiring the dexterity and skill with which they managed the boat, that I did not think of danger," remarked a man who had been stroke oar on a college crew.
While the tourists were being transferred to the ship, the band on deck was playing "Home, Sweet Home," and the Captain and other officers standing at the head of the stairway gave a friendly greeting to the wanderers as they came on board.
"It is pleasant to be welcomed back in this friendly manner," remarked one of the ramblers to another as they entered their cabin, "and then it is so homelike here in our stateroom, with our photographs and nick-nacks pinned around the walls."
A busy afternoon of re-packing followed the departure from Jaffa, for on the following day the tourists were to leave the steamer at Alexandria to remain twelve days in Egypt. Clothing that was considered suitable for the climate of that warmer region was carefully selected and condensed into the smaller receptacles, and every article that the tourists supposed would not be required was left in the staterooms.
On Tuesday morning, March tenth, at seven o'clock, the Moltke was anchored in the commodious port of Alexandria, which is enclosed by long stone breakwaters that have been built into the sea to protect the harbor. Many vessels were at the docks or at anchor in the port, and a handsome white yacht flying the imperial flag of Germany lay within a stone's throw of our steamer.
"The Crown Prince of the German Empire is visiting Egypt and that is his yacht," said one of the officers.
The morning was bright and clear. It was a delight to breathe the warm salt air and feel its invigoration. Overhead the sky was brilliantly blue and the sea reflected it in various hues.
"Did you ever see such wonderful coloring on the waters of sea or river?" asked an enthusiastic beholder. "Near by the sea sparkles in the morning sunlight in azure and olive and darkens into sapphire and emerald, and there beyond the breakwater it changes to tints of violet and purple. I have heard that the colors of the Mediterranean are beautiful; now I know they are."
The row boats that were to carry us ashore gathered around the steamer. The bare-footed boatmen, with faces of various shades from light yellow to intense black, were attired in red fez, white bloomers, and long red sweaters.
At the custom house on the dock the custom officials accepted the statement of the managers that the baggage of the tourists contained nothing dutiable, and the baggage was passed without examination. A special train was on the pier ready to convey the party to Cairo. Beggars and peddlers attempted to approach the train to ask alms or sell their wares, but were driven away with whips by black Nubian soldiers in dark blue uniforms, who appeared to take delight in snapping at the bare legs of the intruders.
It was just noon when our train, the second special section, moved out of Alexandria through long rows of large warehouses; for Alexandria is the chief seaport of Egypt and exports the cotton, grain, sugar, rice, and other productions of the valley of the Nile. As the train passed rapidly southward through the delta of the Nile, we realized that we were in a land entirely different from any that we had previously visited. The trip of one hundred and thirty miles to Cairo will be remembered by the tourists as a panoramic succession of interesting pictures of agricultural life. The land on both sides of the railway was a black, sandy loam, level almost as a floor, intersected and broken only by the canals and irrigation ditches. For some distance out of Alexandria the Mahmudiyeh canal was in sight.
"There is a scene that is familiar to me!" exclaimed one of the party. "A landscape hanging in the art gallery of our city represents the light blue water of a canal mirroring tufted palms and wing-like sails. It was painted by a noted artist, who has successfully reproduced many beautiful Egyptian views."
Nile boats with breeze-filled canvas, caravans of camels on the embankment of the canal, and trains of donkeys laden with marketing for the city by the sea, seemed stationary as we rushed by. The land appeared to be thoroughly cultivated. There were no fences or waste corners in sight. Every foot of workable ground was utilized for raising crops.
"Irrigation makes this almost rainless region the most fruitful on the globe," remarked one of the managers of the tour. "By the aid of irrigation the Egyptian farmers can raise two or three crops every year. To do so, however, they must labor incessantly and give the land thorough cultivation. Irrigation with them is not opening the gates of a sluiceway and letting the water flow over the land. It means severe labor, pumping the water up from the ditches, canals, or river, in which the surface of the water may be ten or twenty feet below the surface of the land. The pumps are the same kind that the people used in the days of the Pharaohs, and the methods of cultivation are the same as in those ancient times, without modern agricultural implements or modern machinery. Three crops, therefore, does not mean great prosperity, but simply enables the Egyptian farmer to pay taxes that would seem enormous to an American farmer, and then to have a surplus sufficient to supply his very moderate wants."
The monotony of the level stretches was varied by groups of palm trees whose tall rough trunks upheld graceful heads of outstretched, drooping leaves, and by villages of small mud huts roofed with stalks of sugar-cane, sufficient, we imagined, in that dry country, to protect the inmates from the burning noonday heat, and to shelter them from the chilling night dews. Occasionally the train stopped at large and apparently prosperous towns, where there were substantial stone buildings and busy factories. At these stations Arab venders offered coffee, lemonade, fruit, and other refreshments to appease the hunger and thirst of the travelers.
The fields were full of life. Each cultivated acre had its dark-hued laborers with hoes, or bare-legged toilers drawing water from the ditches for irrigating the thirsty land, or plowmen guiding teams of ungainly, striding camels or dark gray, crooked-horned oxen. In the lush meadows many of these curious-looking animals were grazing. The camels, the small donkeys, and the gray oxen or water-buffaloes as the natives called them, tied to stakes, were restricted to the pasturage within reach of their tethers. Along some of the irrigating canals naked dark-skinned men and boys splashed about in the water, or stood unabashed on the bank of the stream, gazing at the passing train.
"Look at that scene," cried one of the passengers. "I wonder whether our cattle at home would not enjoy similar treatment."
In the canal some naked boys were mounted on a buffalo, and near them an Arab, also in the water, was scrubbing the back of another buffalo, to the evident enjoyment of that animal.
As we approached Cairo, the great valley of the delta narrowed, and mountain boundaries loomed up in the distance. Far away to the right the tops of the Pyramids, looking very small, silhouetted the sky. On the left, high hills broke the landscape, and presently the buildings and minarets that crowned the hills were outlined on the horizon. Handsome villas, beautiful gardens, good roads, and increasing traffic in the suburbs indicated the nearness of a prosperous city.
Just four hours after leaving Alexandria our train entered the station at Cairo, where hotel-runners, cab-men, and porters gave the passengers a noisy reception. Complete arrangements having been made in advance for our party, we had time to take in the novel sights leisurely. The party had been divided into two sections; one section booked for the famous Shepheard's Hotel, the other section for the Hotel Grand Continental. The avenues through which we were driven on the way to the Hotel were bordered with large shade trees. The streets were full of life. The buildings were modern, seemingly of French style, with a mixture of Oriental architecture.
"What a contrast," said one, thinking aloud of the city we had left but two days ago, as our carriage glided smoothly over the well paved highways. "Did two cities ever present a stronger contrast than Jerusalem, with streets narrow, rough, filthy, and depressing to the spirits, and Cairo, with avenues broad, smooth, clean, and pleasing to the senses? The interest in the city of Jerusalem had to be stirred by the memorials of the sacred events of the past; the discomforts of the present had to be overlooked. The city of Cairo appeals to us at once as a pleasure ground with attractions on all sides, and the promise of comfortable surroundings."
The hotels of Cairo are famous throughout the world for the magnificence of their appointments, the cosmopolitan character of their guests, and the novelty of the sights that may be seen at their doors. When we drove up to the Hotel Grand Continental, a military band was giving an afternoon concert in the beautiful Esbekieh Gardens opposite the hotel. On the wide pavement in front of the piazza of the hotel, dragomen in elaborate Arabic costumes were offering their services as guides or interpreters. "Want a guide? want a guide?" they inquired of all strangers who they thought might need such service. Arab urchins, whose hands may have once been clean, offered picture postal cards for sale; bootblacks solicited patronage and beggars asked for alms; match peddlers endeavored to dispose of their little boxes; flower sellers thrust their bouquets forward into notice; dealers in scarabs and miniature mummy cases proclaimed the virtues of their charms; and venders of beads offered endless varieties of their fanciful, colored Egyptian wares. Interest in the scene was heightened by the variety of the characteristic flowing gowns peculiar to the natives of Egypt. On the piazza, groups of guests were taking afternoon tea, and listening to the music in the park opposite, or, seated comfortably in wicker chairs, found amusement in watching the animated throng on the sidewalk; in observing the arrivals and departures on donkeys and in victorias; and in viewing the constant panoramic procession on the street.
The head porter, in gorgeous uniform, received us with the air of a proprietor; Arab bell boys in bright red silk gowns responded to the call of the manager and conducted us to our rooms; and Arab men in white gowns brought up our luggage. There were French maids on each floor to attend to the calls of the ladies; but Arab men in spotless robes made the beds, cared for the rooms, and took the place of chambermaids. These Arab men were seated in the wide halls when not employed at their tasks, but whenever a guest approached they rose and stood at attention, appearing very tall in their white drapery. In the dining room the English head waiters in dress suits contrasted strangely with the dark-skinned Arab waiters in handsome silk gowns of various colors.
On the evening we arrived in Cairo the large gardens of Shepheard's Hotel were beautifully illuminated with thousands of electric lights and hundreds of Chinese lanterns festooned among the shrubbery. Two military bands alternately played selections from favorite composers during the evening. An exhibition of fire-works made a brilliant display, and this was followed by a "battle of confetti" in the garden and a dance in the hotel. Our party bought packages of paper confetti and joined the gay crowd of merrymakers in casting handfuls of the colored squares of paper at each passer-by. At the dance the great variety of handsome uniforms worn by the English officers attracted our attention, the red jackets of some of the men being particularly noticeable among the light gowns of the French and English women.
Plans to utilize our time to the best advantage were carefully made, so that during our one week in Cairo we might give precedence to the places of particular interest, and see them at the most suitable hours.
When we visited the Egyptian Museum, the wealth of antiquities displayed within its commodious and well-lighted halls held us with a grasp from which it was difficult to break loose. The mummies of the old kings who had been dead for thirty centuries urged us to remain. "We will tell you the story of remote ages," they seemed to say. There Ramses II, with gray hair, thin beard, and pierced ears, the great conqueror, builder of temples, erector of statues, and maker of history, lay peacefully at rest. His lips were firmly closed, his hands folded across his breast. His high forehead indicated the judgment with which he governed, and the strong nose suggested the greatness of his power. And near him, in hieroglyphic-covered coffins, reposed Seti I, constructor of magnificent edifices; Ramses III, oppressor of the Israelites; and many other famous kings, queens, priests, and warriors. The wooden statue of a village sheik with good-natured face and crystal eyes, and the tinted limestone, lifelike statues of Prince Rahotep and his wife Nofret, could they have spoken, might have revealed the secrets of ages long before the times of the mummies; and the gray stone figure of Chepren, which was found in the well of the temple of Gizeh, might have explained the mysteries of pyramid and sphinx.
From the parapet of the citadel which crowns the heights above Cairo, we gazed at the extended view of roofs, mosques, minarets, and tombs of caliphs, and listened to the story of the massacre of the Mamelukes and the legend of the one who marvelously escaped by leaping on his horse over the parapet to the ground sixty feet below. To convince us of the truth of this legend, the dragoman showed the impression of the horse's hoofs in the stone coping on the wall. The large Mosque of Mehemet Ali, on the heights, is built of pure alabaster and carpeted with costly rugs. The older Mosque of Sultan Ahmed, at the foot of the citadel hill, is built of sandstone taken from the Pyramids, and, although partly in ruins and with bare stone floors, it is yet beautiful.
"This mosque make Ahmed glad. He not want another built like it, so he chop hand off architect," explained our good-natured dragoman, whose control of English was limited, but he endeavored to relate the legends and give information.
While returning from the citadel we came by an open-air market, where Egyptians of many types were gathered in groups around piles of merchandise and vegetables. Here our camera man, taking advantage of an opportune moment, caught a dense mass of faces before the natives became aware of his presence.
On Friday afternoon we visited the Monastery El Akbar to see the religious exercises of the Twirling Dervishes, which take place there every Friday afternoon. The shrill music, the fanatic faces, the obeisance to the leader, the whirling men, the naked feet, and the never-touching skirts, just as we beheld them, are pictured vividly by Canon Rawnsley, in his "Idylls and Lyrics of the Nile."
THE DANCING DERVISHES.
The shrillest pipe man ever played Was making music overhead, And in a circle, down below, Sat men whose faces seemed to show Another world was all their trade.
Then up they rose, and one by one, Shook skirts down, following him who led To where the elder brother sat— All gaberdine and conic hat, Then bowed, and off for Heaven they spun.
Their hands were crossed upon their breast, Their eyes were closed as if for sleep, The naked foot that beat the floor, To keep them spinning more and more, Was careless of all need for rest.
Soon every flowing skirt began Its milk-white spinning plane to keep, Each brother of the holy band Spun in and out with lifted hand, A Teetotem no longer man.
The gray old man, their leader, went Throughout his spinning fellowship, And reverently to the ear, Of every dervish circling near, He spake a soft encouragement.
The piper piped a shriller psalm, The dancers thro' their mystery moved, Untouched, untouching, and the twirl That set our giddy heads awhirl, Served but to give their faces calm.
We drove from Cairo to the Pyramids of Gizeh, a distance of ten miles, over a substantial macadamized avenue. This broad highway, elevated eight or ten feet above the adjoining lands in order to protect it from the flood of water during the time of inundation, was bordered for seven miles with large shade trees, and was in perfect condition. On one side of the avenue an electric tramway extended from the bridge at Cairo to the Mena House Hotel near the Pyramids.
"We might have reached our destination more quickly in the cars," said our manager as an electric car sped by us, "but at such speed we should have missed much that is strange and curious. We thought it preferable to take the trip in open carriages."
The scenes along the way as we drove to the Pyramids were indeed novel. In the gardens in the environs of the city, the cabbage, onions, beans, and strawberries were in readiness for the market, and in the fields, the clover and forage plants, dark in color and luxuriant in growth, were ready for the sickle, but the wheat was yet green. The fellahs—the Egyptian farm-laborers—were cutting the rank clover in square patches and stacking it on the backs of camels or donkeys. Along the road stalked camels beneath huge stacks of fragrant clover, and donkeys so laden with newly-cut forage that only their heads and feet could be seen. A crooked-horned ox with an Arab farmer on his back ambled by. A caravan of camels laden with blankets, tents, and military supplies, accompanied by a guard of white-helmeted English soldiers, almost blocked the road as they marched past. Bronzed-faced natives seated in the shade dealt in sugar-cane stalks, cutting pieces of cane from the pile of stalks beside them as they were sold. Turbaned Arabs sauntered by, chewing with evident enjoyment the sweet stalks which they had purchased. Bedouins from the desert rode past on camels bedecked with tasseled trappings, swaying back and forth as they rode. Women, partly veiled, coming from the wells, balanced on their heads large earthen bottles filled with water.
"There are many pyramids," said the guide, as our carriage emerged from the shade of the trees and the Pyramids were seen in the distance, "but Cheops is the greatest, and it is the one that is ascended by visitors; the other Pyramids are viewed at a distance but are visited by few. Cheops is four hundred and fifty feet in height and each side of the base measures seven hundred and fifty feet. It was originally much larger and higher but the outer layers of stone were torn down and carried away to Cairo to build mosques and palaces. The adjacent Pyramid of Chepren is almost as large but as some of the steps are cased, it is more difficult to ascend. When we arrive at the pyramids you may take camels or donkeys and ride around the base of Cheops. Or if you prefer to go on foot, you may walk around it, but walking in the sand is tiresome. Then we will proceed to the Sphinx and, after viewing it, descend to the excavated temple near the Sphinx. Afterwards, those who feel equal to the exertion may climb to the summit of Cheops. As this Pyramid is built of huge blocks of stone about three feet in thickness each step upward requires some effort. The Bedouins, however, will assist you in the ascent, two of them mounting the step ahead and drawing you up while a third pushes behind."
As we neared them, the Pyramids, which at first had seemed small and hazy in the distance, became distinct and grew in size. When very close to them they appeared enormous, but their magnitude was not fully appreciated until some hours later, after we had tramped through the sand around the four sides of great Cheops. After that walk, a distance of more than half a mile, we could judge with greater exactness the immense proportions of the extensive base. The slope of the sides prevented a fair conception of their height when looking upward at them; but after reaching the top of Cheops, panting with the exertion of the laborious climb in which we had been assisted by three Bedouins, we looked down at the midgets moving on the sand below, and were convinced that the altitude stated by the guide was not exaggerated.
The Pyramids of Gizeh stand upon a plateau about four hundred acres in extent, which appeared to be thirty or more feet above the level of the surrounding country. The surface of this plateau is a barren sandy tract, bordered by cultivated land on the side toward the Nile and merging on the west into the Libyan desert which stretches to the distant hills. Just as far as the inundation of the Nile spreads or the irrigating water was pumped, the land was fertile; where the surface rose above the height reached by the water, the land was a barren waste. Almost as suddenly as landing from an emerald sea on to a desert shore, we stepped from a rich growth of verdure to a bare slope of yellow sand.
At the foot of the Pyramid of Cheops a gesticulating, vociferous throng of Bedouins crowded about us, shouting in Arabic mixed with a few intelligible English words. Camel-drivers and donkey boys offered the services of their animals to make the circuit; helpers, almost dragging us away in their eagerness, insisted that we should climb to the summit; and guides with candles in their hands importuned us to accompany them into the gloomy interior. After a selection of camels and donkeys had been made by those who desired to ride, the clamorous crowd of natives separated, and we were allowed to start accompanied by but a few, who followed in case they should be needed. "Madam might drop her shawl, or want her umbrella carried, or need an arm to steady her in the saddle," explained the guide.
"For scores of centuries," remarked the professor, as we stood before the Sphinx, "the strong winds from the west have carried particles of sand from the desert and deposited them around the Pyramids. Now the original base of Cheops lies twenty or thirty feet beneath banks of sand and debris that have collected around it. In the same manner the encroaching particles, drifting like the light dry snows of the prairies, have almost engulfed the Sphinx. Many times in the past the sand has been shoveled away to prevent the Sphinx from being hidden from sight, and if this excavation in which it now stands should be neglected for a time, the desert winds would fill the pit again and gradually cover the monument. The Granite Temple adjacent to the Sphinx was covered over so completely in the progress of centuries that its location was forgotten. It is but fifty years since the French archaeologist Mariette discovered and excavated the interior of this large structure, the exterior of which, as you see, yet remains embedded in sand as far as the capstone on the walls."
After descending the steps that led down to the floor of the buried temple and passing through rooms constructed of blocks of alabaster, we stood in the main hall, surrounded by monolithic pillars of granite which supported enormous blocks of the same material overhead. The guide said that these huge blocks of granite had been brought from quarries at Assuan, far up the Nile, but he could not tell how the ancient Egyptians had been able to handle the monoliths.
"My theory may not be correct," said the professor, as we turned to him for a reply to the query "but I will state it. We know how the great blocks of limestone that were used in the erection of the Pyramids were brought from the Libyan mountains; for the father of history, Herodotus, relates the story. He says that the Egyptians constructed a solid road sixty feet wide of polished stone from the quarry in the Lybian mountains and over this smooth roadbed dragged or rolled the huge blocks. He also states that as the work progressed, these blocks were lifted by machines from step to step and imbedded in their places in the pyramid. When granite or other stone had to be brought from a great distance for the erection of temples and palaces, as for this granite and alabaster temple of the Sphinx, the Egyptians probably adopted the simplest way of conveying the material in a land where task-masters drove tens of thousands of slaves to labor on the public works. That is, they probably excavated canals from the Nile to the quarries, supplementing these, where necessary, with stone roadways or slides, and made other canals from the Nile to the location selected for the buildings, and transported the unwieldy masses of stone on barges to their destination."
"I made some calculations for comparison last night," continued the professor, seeing that we were interested in his statements. "Professor Petrie, the archaeologist, says that there are over two million large blocks of stone in the Pyramid of Cheops, or ninety-two million cubic feet."
"Now, Professor," said one of the ladies, interrupting him, "you are getting above our comprehension when you soar into millions."
"Am I?" he replied. "Well, I will leave the millions and give you something more familiar. The Capitol at Washington is seven hundred and fifty feet long,—just the length of each side of the base of Cheops,—but the Capitol is not half that in width. The Capitol covers an area of three and one-half acres; the Pyramid spreads over thirteen acres. The apex of the Pyramid is one hundred and sixty feet higher than the head of Freedom on the dome at Washington. The Capitol is a hollow structure; the Pyramid, a solid mass, excepting the comparatively small chamber of the tomb and passage ways. The stone used in the construction of Cheops would be sufficient to build the Capitol and the Library of Congress, and there would be enough material left over for capitol buildings in each of the states in the Union. When you have time, calculate how many miles of stone wall might be constructed with ninety-two million cubic feet of stone. It is only by comparison that we can comprehend the stupendous bulk of these magnificent monuments, and realize the prodigious amount of labor that was required for their erection."
It was but a short drive from the Hotel Grand Continental to the Muski, the narrow street that is the centre of the bazaar district, a district which every visitor is sure to find soon after his arrival in Cairo. When we entered the crowded Muski, we left the broad avenues of the modern city behind and walked in narrow Oriental streets through which carriages are not allowed to go.
"Everything is novel and interesting in this busy thoroughfare," said one of our party. "I suggest that we move along very slowly and stop frequently. See that lemonade vender with the brass tank strapped to his back. When he bent forward the water flowed from the spout over his shoulder into the cup he held in his hand, without his touching the tank. He is waiting for his customer to produce the pennies that apparently cannot be found."
The street scenes in the Muski were so kaleidoscopic that it is impossible to give more than a suggestion of their character. A few representative scenes can be given and around these the imagination must picture a constantly changing throng, not hurrying as in busy American cities, but moving leisurely in the Eastern manner. The crowd was orderly, but not quiet, for tongues were in constant use. Merchants and customers chattered and parleyed. Venders of licorice water and sweetmeats did not permit their presence to be overlooked, and donkeys occasionally joined in the chorus. Each figure unfamiliar to our Western eyes, in turban or in fez, in slippers or in bare feet, in scant gown of cotton or full robe of silk, was a subject worthy of being considered individually.
A baby, astride its mother's shoulder, clung to her head while she walked along and made her purchases, apparently unconscious of her child. A bare-footed water carrier, bearing on his back an unwieldy goatskin distended with its contents, cried, "Water for sale." A donkey boy pushed aside the crowd to let the closely veiled, silk-mantled lady rider pass through on her caparisoned donkey. Muscular fellahs, or peasants, in brown skull caps, and blue shirts which reached to their ankles, their feet bare, their teeth remarkable for whiteness, sauntered along chewing stalks of sugar-cane. Women of the poorer class passed by, wearing scanty gowns of plain blue cotton, heavy copper bracelets, and nose ornaments of brass, which held in place the veils that covered the lower part of their faces but did not conceal the beauty spots tattooed on their foreheads. A funeral procession, with professional mourners chanting monotonously a hymn to Allah, followed a casket borne on the shoulders of men. And these curious scenes, which we tried to catch with the camera, formed but unimportant parts in an ever-moving picture in which were intermingled the costumes, colors, and facial characteristics of dervishes, priests, and soldiers, of Arabs, Nubians, Turks, and Americans.
The Muski and the crooked little passage-ways that intersected it were lined with small shops where many of the dealers sat cross-legged on platforms within arm's reach of their stock of goods. The stores for the sale of each kind of goods had a special quarter of their own. At one place we saw the shops of the coppersmiths with stocks of bright kettles, pitchers, basins, trays, and pans; at another, the stores of the shoemakers, where hundreds of bright red slippers dangled on lines overhead. In one crooked alley, but four feet in width, we watched the goldsmiths, squatted in narrow quarters, busily at work with brazier and blowpipes and curious little tools, hammering, twisting, and welding chains of gold, and making ornaments of silver filagree.
We bought souvenirs at the stalls of the fez dealers, where but one style of headgear was sold, always red in color, and with prices varying according to the quality of the cloth and lining. We stopped at the warerooms of the brass-smiths, which were larger in size than the ordinary shops, and found these filled with an array of hammered trays, censers, bowls, tankards, curiously wrought lamps, and ornamented candlesticks, that attracted many buyers. We looked into the little factories of the saddlers, which were gay with red and yellow trappings for donkeys and horses, and where the saddlers were stitching with bright colored-threads.
The light open-front workshops of the makers of hempen camel harness were hung with the twisted rope and tassel adornments of variegated colors with which the Bedouin delights to array his ship of the desert. The stores of the grocers were adorned with long decorated candles suspended by the wicks. We saw hundreds of tiny bazaars for the sale of perfumes, placed side by side in a narrow lane where the air was scented with musk and attar of roses; and we walked through narrow streets where, each kind in its own section, earthen water jars, lanterns, books, ornamented leather work, gems, and precious stones were displayed for sale.
The guide insisted that we should spend a little time in the carpet stores in a side street. We yielded to his entreaties, and were surprised by the immense stacks of exquisite silk rugs; but to the courteous salesman's offer to show us everything in his place, we were compelled by lack of time to reply, "Another day." When we arrived at the more prominent silk bazaars, the ladies wished to buy some light shawls interwoven with gold thread and table covers embroidered with silk. They soon found out, however, that, as in the other Oriental cities, much time would be required for bargaining, and so the shopping was put off until the sight-seeing was over.
LUXOR AND KARNAK.
The Nile party No. 2, consisting of forty-two persons, left Cairo on Friday morning, March thirteenth, in sleeping cars. The cars were painted white outside, finished in cherry inside, and divided into rooms, each room having two comfortable berths and a washstand, and a passageway along the side of the car. We ate our dinner that evening and breakfast the following morning in a modern dining car attached to the train.
At nine o'clock on Saturday morning the train arrived at our destination, the town of Luxor, about four hundred miles south of Cairo. The Hotel de Luxor, at which we stayed, was situated in the midst of a large irrigated garden where palms cast a grateful shade and roses and lilies bloomed among tropical plants. Within this hotel, built with thick stone walls and floored with flagstones, the tourists found a pleasant refuge from the heat when they returned from excursions into the desert. In its cool dining room, decorated in the old Egyptian style with figures of gods and goddesses, with lotus blossoms and papyrus flowers, with hieroglyphics and symbols, painted on frieze, walls, and window sash, the tourists were waited on by white-robed, white-turbaned, red-sashed, red-slippered natives.
The flies were a great pest. They were numerous and annoying, although we found that they did not bite so hard nor tickle the skin so much as do the flies in our country. Among the first purchases made by the tourists in Luxor were fly brushes made of palm fiber or of white horsehair with wooden handles and loops to attach them to the wrist. It was amusing to see English, German, and American tourists switching at the flies with their horsetail brushes while the natives passively endured the crawling insects. Egyptian mothers in the village permitted the flies to creep over the babies' faces and settle in clusters around their eyes without attempting to drive the tormentors away, either too lazy to do so or desirous that the babies should become hardened to the annoyance. We pitied the infants, however, and some of the ladies of our party became very indignant over the indifference—cruelty they called it—of the mothers. We saw many older children afterwards whose skin appeared to be insensible to the tickling feet; for they made no attempt to brush away the flies which covered their faces.
Our party was joined during the morning by another party of tourists. After luncheon we all proceeded to the end of the shaded garden, where, at the gateway, we found Mahmoud, the dragoman who had been selected to take charge of the expedition. His assistants were assembled there and with them were eighty donkey boys, each with his donkey, a number of jinrikisha men with carts, and chair men with chairs. The donkey boys were of all ages from lads scarcely in their teens to veterans of three-score years. The donkeys were of various sizes but the largest were not over four feet high. The jinrikishas had each two attendants, one man to pull in the shafts of the cart and one to push. The chairs borne on poles on the shoulders of men had each six carriers, four to carry and two as a relay. Chairs or jinrikishas were chosen by the tourists whose bodies required careful treatment and by those who preferred to travel in luxury. The donkeys, however, were selected by the majority, who considered it a far greater pleasure to ride.
"This way! this way! ladies and gentlemen, if you please!" exclaimed Mahmoud, and the merry cavalcade of eighty tourists and one hundred attendants started off through the village, donkey boys chattering, donkeys braying, and riders gaily chaffing one another on their appearance in the saddle; the long-legged professor holding up his feet to prevent them from scraping the ground and the jolly stout parson mounted on the smallest donkey. Each donkey was followed by a donkey boy who whipped the patient beast, jabbed him with a sharp pointed stick, twisted the animal's tail, or talked to him in Arabic, when it was necessary to urge him to greater speed. When urged, the donkeys were fast walkers. But whether the donkeys were walking, trotting, or galloping, the boys with little exertion managed to keep close to their heels, and the jinrikisha men and chair men could keep up such a rapid speed with their loads that it was difficult to leave them in the rear.
My donkey boy, aged about sixteen, told me that his name was Abda Mohammed and that the medium sized white donkey on which I rode was known as Alice Lovell. With broad smiles which showed a perfect set of white teeth, he repeated over and over again, at intervals during the short ride, "Alice Lovell, nice donkey, good donkey. Abda, nice boy, good donkey boy," doubtless thinking that if I could fully realize that fact the backsheesh at parting would be larger.
A half hour's ride on an embanked road across fields and desert sands brought us to the ruins of a great arch, formerly one of the gateways into the magnificent ancient temples of Karnak, but now an entrance way to the famous ruins. There, the Egyptian guards ordered us to show our government permits, or monument tickets, as our dragoman called them, without which we could not inspect the ruins.
"Oh! I have forgotten my ticket!" said one of the tourists. "I left it with my satchel. What shall I do?"
At luncheon before starting Mahmoud had cautioned the tourists to be careful not to forget their permits, and his cautionary words, "Monument tickets are very much wanted," were familiar and often repeated. A hurried consultation was held and the difficulty overcome, but the forgetful one and others were warned that it must not occur again.
In order to provide a fund to be used in excavating, preserving, and caring for the ancient temples and tombs, the Egyptian government requires a permit costing six dollars to be taken out by each person desiring to visit these places, and without such a permit he cannot enter. At Cairo the managers of the tour had obtained from the government for each member of the Nile party a little cloth bound "Service des Antiquites L'Egypte" made out in the name of the holder. This open-sesame for the iron gates was given to each person with the warning that it must not be forgotten.
We stopped to view and kodak one of the huge Propylons or outer gate ways and found there some visitors who had driven to Karnak in modern carriages instead of using the Oriental way of conveyance that we had taken. An avenue of Sphinxes with rams' heads was also stowed away in the kodak to be brought to light at some future time.
"These stupendous ruins of Karnak," said the dragoman, "were once a group of magnificent temples covering an area of many acres. The most ancient of the structures was built over forty centuries ago. Other temples were added and alterations and improvements made during the ages following when the city of Thebes was a prosperous capital; but for over two thousand years these places of worship have been abandoned and the sand of the desert has collected around them, almost burying them out of sight. The Egyptian government for a number of years has had many natives excavating, and also has been raising some of the fallen columns."
As we passed through the temple grounds we saw a number of men and boys at work, as the dragoman had stated. These excavators scooped the sand and debris into small baskets, while a taskmaster stood over them, whip in hand. Then placing the filled baskets on their heads they started off in long lines, singing as they marched to the deposit heap. The men, we were informed, earned twenty-five cents a day at this labor, and the boys ten to fifteen cents a day.
"One thing noticeable about these most magnificent ruins in the world," continued the guide, as we halted in the great court, "is that the architecture, the sculpture, the inscriptions, of the earlier temples is equal, if not superior, to the workmanship of a later date. The construction work done under the great kings Ramses I, Seti I, Ramses II, and Amenophis III, who ruled over Egypt thirteen centuries before the Christian era, has never been surpassed. Stones of immense size were handled by their architects in some manner unknown at the present day, and walls and columns were erected of such solidity and strength that they have endured through these many ages. The First Pylon or gigantic portal to the Temple of Ammon, which was dedicated to Ammon-Re, the King of the Gods, is three hundred and seventy-two feet wide, with walls sixteen feet thick and one hundred and forty-two feet high. The wonderful Hypostyle Hall, or Hall of Columns, is three hundred and thirty-eight feet long by one hundred and seventy feet broad."
"Before we enter, let me read you what the noted Egyptologist Rawlinson says with reference to this Hall of Columns," said the professor, drawing out his note book. "He writes: 'The greatest of all Seti's work was his pillared hall at Karnak, the most splendid single chamber that has ever been built by any architect, and even in its ruins one of the grandest sights that the world contains."
The huge columns, some in place, some leaning, and others prostrate, were an impressive sight. The guide called our attention to the inscriptions that covered all the columns and to the traces of coloring that might still be seen on the protected parts. In order that we might more fully realize their size, he suggested that we measure the circumference of one with our arms. It required six of us with outstretched arms to span one of the larger columns.
As we passed through the various halls, Mahmoud interpreted and explained many of the historical inscriptions and reliefs with which the ancient Egyptian kings had covered the walls, commemorating the victories they had gained over their enemies. One wall pictured the triumph of Shishak over Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. The captured cities were represented by circles each enclosing the name of the city; the captives, by rows of Hebrews bound with cords. King Shishak stood over the captives grasping a group of them by the hair and smiting them with a club, and slaves carried the golden treasures that had been stripped from the temple at Jerusalem, and the plunder taken from Rehoboam's palace.
On our return to Luxor my donkey boy Abda and I had a disagreement. I gave him, as backsheesh, a tip equal to a man's wages for a full day's work in Egypt; but he pleaded with tears in his eyes for "more backsheesh," and departed apparently in great anger.
After resting awhile in the cool halls of our hotel, we walked to the ruins of the great Temple in the village of Luxor, close by the river bank and not far from the hotel.
"In the year 1884," said Mahmoud, as we assembled around him in the ruins where the gigantic columns rose forty feet above our heads, "I was living in a house that stood just over where we are now standing and I did not know that a part of the temple was buried in the earth underneath. The government officials, after much haggling and complaining about the prices my neighbors and I demanded, bought the houses and lands of us, about thirty properties in all, and gave us other lands, so that the excavations could be continued. That year this part of the temple was uncovered. The little white mosque at the corner could not be purchased, as that ground is sacred and must not be disturbed to uncover ruins underneath it."
"This edifice, dedicated to the worship of Ammon," continued the guide, "was erected by King Amenophis III thirty-three hundred years ago; but King Ramses II, one hundred years later, added to the structure and made it a memorial of his reign by embellishing the temple with statues of himself and covering the exterior walls with reliefs and inscriptions picturing and describing his triumphs."
We saw two colossal sitting statues of Ramses forty-five feet in height, one of which was completely excavated, the other buried breast high in rubbish, and in a court of the temple were many gigantic standing figures of Ramses placed between the pillars. Beside one of these was a small figure, representing the queen Nefertari, which just reached to the height of the knees of Ramses.
"The king desired to indicate by the size of the statues that he was a great conqueror," said the dragoman. "His wife was the daughter of Pharoah who, while bathing in the Nile, found the Hebrew babe hidden among the papyri plants."
"If Nefertari was the princess who rescued Moses, she deserved a larger statue," responded one of the tourists.
"This series of scenes represents the victory at Kadesh in Syria," explained the guide as we stood before a wall covered with pictorial representations of conflict cut in the stone. "Here is the King in his chariot charging with fury on his foes amid flying arrows. Notice the dead and wounded scattered over the field of battle and the Hittites flying in confusion. At one side you see the Egyptian camp, and on the other side the fortress of Kadesh and the Syrian king amazed at the sight of his army in wild flight. The hieroglyphics that cover the side of the tower give a detailed account of the battle and of the glorious deeds of valor performed by King Ramses. There were originally two large obelisks here in front of the temple, but one of them was taken to Paris a number of years ago."
"Yes, I saw it there," remarked one of the party, "but the inscriptions on the one at Paris looked worn and weather-beaten; while those on this obelisk are almost as distinct as when they were cut in the pink granite three thousand years ago."
On the morning of March fifteenth, after an early breakfast, we started at seven o'clock to visit the Tombs of the Kings and the temples on the west side of the Nile,—the village of Luxor and the temples of Luxor and Karnak being on the east side. Crossing the river in ferry boats propelled by sails and oars, the tourists found donkeys, boys, chair-men, lunch carriers, guides, and extra men crowding the western shore. We had hardly landed when the donkey boys surrounded us, gesticulating, shouting the merits of themselves and their beasts, and pleading that their donkeys might be selected. Much to my surprise, Abda, the offended and angry boy of the Karnak ride, pushed his way to my side with Alice Lovell and smilingly claimed me as his friend and benefactor, with the familiar tale: "Alice Lovell a good donkey; Abda a good donkey boy," so our relations were renewed.
The ladies decided that the men's saddles would be more comfortable for a long ride, and that there would be less danger of the saddle turning; so side saddles were generally dispensed with and most of the women mounted astride. From the landing we rode slowly over a long stretch of loose sand, tiresome to the donkeys, and then along a good path on the embankment of an irrigating ditch. The sun was sending down hot rays by the time we reached our first halting place, the Temple of Kurna, and we were glad to dismount and seek shelter and rest in the shade of the great walls while we examined the beautifully executed reliefs and inscriptions.
In the treasure chamber of the temple, Mahmoud related the story of the architect who built the chamber for King Seti. "This rascal of an architect," said Mahmoud, "left one stone loose so that he could secretly remove it and enter the chamber to steal. The robber was caught in the act of carrying off the treasure and fittingly punished as you may see represented in the reliefs on the walls. This man pictured here in disgrace and chains as a warning to ill-doers was the first thief in Egypt, but I am sorry to say he was not the last."
After leaving the Temple of Kurna, which is situated near the cliffs that bound the Nile valley, our procession entered a narrow ravine through which the path leads to the Tombs of the Kings. Here we met another large party of Americans and we all rode together for some distance, one of the tourists meeting a friend whom she had not seen for seven years. We passed two Englishmen with their guide, who moved off the path and gazed through their eye-glasses in mild astonishment at our animated cavalcade in varied costumes; while we in turn looked at their immaculate sporting outfits and thought how lonely the couple must be, traveling through these dismal solitudes. Our party had not thought it worth while to purchase special riding outfits for the few days in the desert, but had utilized what they had. For protection from the sun some used white helmets or cloth neck protectors, some covered their heads and necks with veils or tied down their soft hats, others wore straw hats or caps regardless of sunburn.
Overhead was an unclouded sky; at each side rose yellow limestone cliffs glaring in the noonday sun, and underneath white sand and limestone chips reflected the burning rays. Not a sign of vegetation relieved the eye in this waterless gorge during our one hour's ride from Kurna to the Tombs.
"Backsheesh! backsheesh!" demanded the donkey boys, as we dismounted.
"Why do you want backsheesh now?"
"Boy don't want backsheesh, donkey want backsheesh, donkey eat hay while man in tombs."
In order that the Tombs may be satisfactorily examined by visitors, the government has built an electric light plant in the gorge and the thirty-five tombs are illuminated by electricity. Our party entered and examined the six of these tombs which are considered the most interesting. At each of these an Egyptian guard politely scrutinized the "Services des Antiquites," although it was printed in French that he could not read, and then permitted the holder to enter.
In Tomb No. 17, we descended a passage hewn in the limestone cliff, about ten feet wide, ten feet in height, and three hundred and thirty feet in length, which leads inward and downward by inclines and steps to the resting-place of King Seti, a tomb prepared during his life to be the receptacle for his mummified remains after death. The smooth polished walls and ceilings of the corridors and chambers were sculptured by the best artists of Seti's time with reliefs of great beauty, representing scenes of a sacred character. The praising of the great God Ammon-Re, the offering of incense and gifts to various deities, the passage of the boat of the sun, the punishments in the underworld, the sacred sun-disk, animal-headed gods, patron goddesses, fierce demons, sacred animals, winged serpents, flying spirits, evil genii, coiled snakes, and creeping scarabs are portrayed repeatedly.
Mahmoud explained the pictures and inscriptions as we slowly went forward, stopping frequently to inspect more closely those of greater interest.
"After Seti's death," said Mahmoud, as we stood in the chamber of the tomb, brilliantly lighted by the electric bulbs, "his body was embalmed and with great pomp and ceremony the mummy was carried from the palace in the great city of Thebes through the dismal gorge and deposited in a magnificent alabaster sarcophagus that had been prepared for its reception in this chamber in the limestone rock ninety feet below the surface of the ground. Then the tomb was closed and sealed so that the body of the king might remain in peace until it should be called forth at the end of time to undergo trial before the god Osiris.
"For hundreds of years, the mummy lay tranquilly in its sealed tomb; then the seals were rudely broken and the tomb was despoiled by robbers who wished to obtain the valuables deposited with the body. When this despoliation was discovered, the rulers of the Empire removed Seti's mummy and the mummies of other kings to a tomb near the Temple of Der-el-bahri which could be more closely guarded. There the mummies remained until the year 1881, when they were taken away to the Museum at Cairo."
"And now," said one of the visitors, as the guide concluded, "after thirty centuries of repose, the proud features of this oppressor of the Israelites, little the worse for the lapse of time, are exposed in the great hall of the National Museum in Cairo to the gaze of the rude multitude from whom he desired to be hidden, and his alabaster sarcophagus is admired by visitors in the Soane Museum of London."
Almost all the articles of value in the Tombs that the robbers did not succeed in carrying away, as well as the mummies and sarcophagi, have been removed to museums in the large cities, the most valuable being retained for the Museum in Cairo. In the tomb of Amenophis II, however, the mummy of the king in a decorated coffin remains for the inspection of visitors. Above the head of this ruler of the ancient empire, a modern electric bulb hangs, illuminating the rugged features and showing every detail of high nose, sunken cheeks, and straggling hair on the head and chin. The tombs of Ramses III, Ramses IV, and Ramses IX were interesting each in its own way. That of Ramses III had, in addition to the sacred scenes, pictures of agricultural and family life; plowing, sowing, reaping, baking, slaughtering, and cooking.
"Shall we return through the gorge or take the shorter path over the cliffs and obtain a view of the Nile valley?" inquired the dragoman.
Some, dreading the exertion under a broiling sun, chose the level road on a donkey's back. Others, intent on obtaining the view, started to climb the zigzag path regardless of the glare of the sun, the donkey boys following with the donkeys. The view from the summit amply repaid us for the climb. On one side we looked down into the desolate valley of the Tombs. On the other we saw the rich green valley of the Nile, with groups of palms, villages, and temples. Directly below at the foot of the yellow cliff, and in strong contrast to it, was the white marble temple of Der-al-bahri. And not far from the temple was a cottage, which at once became interesting to the tired party when the guide, pointing to it, said: "That is the rest-house. A good luncheon will be ready on the tables when you arrive there."
We had been riding on a very narrow trail along the edge of a precipice, but now we dismounted and descended, on foot, a winding path, too steep and dangerous for riding, that led us to the rest-house in the valley below. Here, at the Chalet Hatasu, as it was named, the servants had unpacked the hampers which they had brought from the hotel at Luxor, and the hungry travelers were soon seated around well-spread tables. During the meal a throng of scantily clad men, boys, and small children assembled outside the Chalet. These bare-footed Arabs offered for sale scarabs, stone mummy images, mummified feet, skulls, beads, and trinkets so clamorously and persistently that our dragoman had to use his long lashed whip to clear the way. After leaving the chalet, naked boys, apparently from four to ten years of age, followed us with outstretched hands, begging for backsheesh. Some of these boys earned money by posing to be kodaked.
The walls and columns of the Ramesseum, the magnificent temple built by Ramses II, and those of Medinet Habu, the great temple built by Ramses III, were covered with pictures in relief, made in the golden days of Theban prosperity.
"The ancient artists, to perpetuate their work, used chisels on lasting stone instead of brushes on perishable canvas," remarked the professor as we examined the reliefs, "and their pictures carved on the stone walls have endured through centuries."
We saw battle scenes with the king leading in the fray, archers discharging arrows, charioteers riding down the foe, and enemies fleeing in dismay; triumphal marches with the king borne aloft on a canopied litter, fan-bearers waving fans, musicians blowing trumpets and beating drums, courtiers bearing standards, and captives led in chains; festal processions with the king marching in front, the sacred white bull festooned with wreaths, maidens carrying flowers, and priests bearing images; and nations paying tribute to the king upon his throne, Nubians bringing leopard skins, giraffes, and grinning apes, and princes presenting gems, costly vases, and golden shields. One picture at Medinet Habu represented the soldiers cutting off the right hands of their enemies who had been slain in battle and bringing these gruesome emblems of the dead to the secretaries to be counted and recorded. The secretaries had counted and recorded twelve thousand five hundred and thirty-five hands. To enumerate the many interesting scenes sculptured on the temple walls would be like cataloguing a picture gallery.
At the Ramesseum, the enormous Colossus of Ramses lay broken on the ground, overthrown by some mighty force.
"This huge granite figure," said Mahmoud, "was, before its fall, the largest statue ever carved out of one block of stone. Its height was nearly sixty feet, the fingers three feet long, and its weight has been estimated at one thousand tons."
The Colossi of Memnon, the two enormous seated figures in the midst of level cultivated fields, were passed and photographed as we returned to Luxor. Their hugeness may be judged by comparing their size with the height of the tourists alongside in the illustration.
"During the weeks of inundation each year," said Mahmoud, after he had told us the dimensions of the statues and the mythical stories associated with them, "these grain fields as far as the vegetation extends are covered with water to a depth of from ten to fifteen feet. When the Nile is at its height the heads of the great Colossi, surrounded by water, rise forty feet above the flood."
A bath and a thorough brushing of clothes at the hotel removed the desert sand. We sipped our afternoon tea in the shaded garden and then the party of forty-two persons boarded the Nile steamer Amasis in time for an evening dinner on the boat. Suit cases and satchels were unpacked and the staterooms made cozy, for the Amasis was to be the tourists' home for a number of days during the trip down the Nile.
ON THE NILE.
At daylight on Monday morning, March sixteenth, the Amasis steamed away from Luxor and by nine o'clock had arrived at the landing for Dendera. The donkey boys of Dendera, having been notified of our coming, were waiting with their donkeys. In a few minutes the tourists were mounted for a half hour's ride on narrow paths through green barley fields to the ruined temple. I rode on a donkey named Whiskey and Soda, with my donkey boy Hassan running behind prodding the animal occasionally with a sharp-pointed stick, and yelling "Haow! Haow!" to urge Whiskey and Soda to a more rapid gait. Along the paths through the fields many children ran to greet us with outstretched palms. Their costumes were those of the Garden of Eden before the fall; but having been informed of our approach, the bronze colored youngsters had decorated themselves for the occasion with wreaths of green barley around their waists and crowns of the same material on their heads. The little Arabs, bright-eyed, smooth-limbed, and handsome featured, attractive and picturesque in appearance, shouted with glee when a few small coins were thrown among them.
"Look at that!" exclaimed one of the party. "I have heard of the shepherds carrying the lambs on their shoulders, but here is a man coming with the foal of a donkey in his arms."
"What a dear little pet," said the ladies as the Arab passed us with the young donkey nestling contentedly on his breast.
"The famous Temple of Dendera was not so magnificent nor so large as the temples of Karnak and Thebes," said the guide, as we stood before the gates, "but it was more richly decorated with carvings and paintings. Every inch of column, wall, and ceiling was carved with hieroglyphic and pictorial decorations. These were painted in bright colors which are yet faintly visible. This structure is a modern one compared with Karnak; for Karnak was an ancient temple more than one thousand years old when King Ptolemy began the erection of this building just before the Christian Era. An inscription on the walls states that the time required for its construction was one hundred and eight years, six months, and fourteen days. When Egypt became a Roman province after the death of Cleopatra, the Roman emperors continued the construction of the unfinished temple. Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero are represented in reliefs on the walls. The temple was dedicated to the worship of the Goddess Hathor, the Egyptian Venus, or goddess of love and beauty."
"Why was the temple built here two miles away from the river, instead of near the banks of the Nile?" inquired a tourist.
"It was because this terrace is higher than the valley," answered Mahmoud. "Remember that these green fields through which we rode are made fertile by the overflow of the Nile; then I think that the reason for building on this plateau will be plain to you."
"But why was it built in a depression?"
"It was not originally in a hole," explained the guide, "but was built on level ground. Some sixteen hundred years ago the Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius forbade the worship of idols. After that time, the worship of the goddess Hathor being discontinued, the temple was neglected and a village of mud huts sprang up around it. These huts, built of sun-dried bricks, crumbled to dust in the passage of years and were trampled under foot. Again and again new huts supplanted the old until in the course of centuries the debris accumulated many feet in depth. When the government, fifty years ago, undertook to restore the temple, the workmen had to begin by shoveling mud huts off the roof."
We descended a long flight of steps to reach the level of the floor of the excavated temple, and passing the blue-uniformed guards entered the grand hall of columns. The hall, as the guide had told us, was richly decorated. Master sculptors had carved every available space on the walls and columns with hieroglyphic inscriptions and beautiful reliefs; master artists in color had heightened the effect with tint and shade. Looking up we saw, pictured on the ceiling, the Egyptian deity, Nut, the goddess of the sky, controlling the movements of sun and stars; the rays of the sun shining in blessing on the head of Hathor; the moon issuing from Nut's mouth; the signs of the Zodiac; the flying Hours of day and night; and the sailing boats of the planets.
The guide raised a stone trap door less than two feet square in the stone floor and through this small entrance we squeezed, candle in hand, and descended a stone stairway to explore the dark crypt underneath. Although the ladies screamed when the bats, disturbed and blinded by the light, flew wildly overhead, they bravely followed the guide. The long passage was but three feet in width and we wondered why the dragoman had brought us down into its close and gloomy recesses; but when magnesium wires were lit, our wonder turned into admiration, for the sputtering white light revealed on the smooth sidewalls most beautiful reliefs in well preserved coloring.
"Did you see anything remarkable in that dark cellar?" inquired a voice from above as we ascended through the trap.
"Why didn't you come along?" was the laughing response.
"I've not trained down to the proper size yet," rejoined the fat man who could be jolly on all occasions. "Do you think that a man of my size could squeeze through a hole like that?"
By a long stone stairway of easy steps we ascended leisurely to the roof, stopping frequently to admire the ceremonial procession of priests pictured on the walls of the staircase. From the flat stone roof we saw on one side the green cultivated fields extending to the river's edge and on the other side the yellow desert stretching to the distant cliffs.
"This is a picture of Cleopatra and her son Caesarion," said Mahmoud, as we inspected the reliefs on the outer walls, "and this is King Ptolemy offering incense to the gods Osiris and Isis, and hawk-headed Horus their son. Here also is Hathor's picture repeated many times."
The trip down the river Nile on the fine steamer Amasis, which had been chartered for us, was thoroughly enjoyed by the forty-two people who made up the party. The staterooms were bright and clean and the meals served were equal to those of a first class hotel. The captain and his officials did all they could to make the trip pleasant for us. Life on board was a life of ease; the air though warm was balmy and restful, and cares were forgotten. The centre of the upper deck was roofed over but open at the sides with rugs on the floor, easy chairs, small tables, and a piano. In this open piazza-parlor we sipped the coffee that was served to us there after luncheon and after dinner. There, too, we partook of the tea and cakes that were handed around at four o'clock, and when we returned from excursions on shore, tired and warm, we found refreshing lemonade ready to quench our thirst.
Our dragoman, Mahmoud Achmed, the Egyptian conductor of all our sight-seeing excursions on land, was an interesting character and became a great favorite. He was a native of Luxor and while we were at that place his bright-eyed little girl, neatly dressed, came to meet us. Mahmoud had a fund of information regarding the history of the country, the legends of the gods, and the fabulous deeds of the ancient kings. He had a most interesting way of interspersing history with mythical tales and humorous incidents, and so kept the party in high spirits. Mahmoud was noted, too, for his ability to answer intelligently all reasonable inquiries and for his great patience in replying to many questions, that must have appeared to him very silly. Each day on the boat while we were all seated at dinner, Mahmoud came into the dining saloon and announced the program for the following days, always beginning: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you please," and closing with, "Monument tickets are very much wanted. Galloping donkeys is not allowed."
For some one to mislay or forget a permit was a daily occurrence and the caution had to be repeated often. As to the donkeys, the riders paid no attention to the restriction, but walked, trotted, or galloped the donkeys as they felt inclined.
During the daytime Mahmoud wore a plain gown suitable for traveling on shore in heat and dust, but in the evenings he was resplendent in robes of silk. One night, at the request of one of the ladies, he brought to the mid-deck five handsome silk gowns to be inspected by the tourists. He also brought his book of references written by people whom he had conducted. In this we read the dignified prose of preacher and college president, the practical remarks of business men, and the nonsensical lines of the rhymster. One of his feminine admirers, seemingly impressed by the dragoman's silk robes, polite attention, and general good humor, had left the following jingle on the record:
Who guided us all about the show, Whether we wanted to go or no, And always pleased and made us go? Mahmoud.
Who whipped the donkey when he fell And then the donkey boy as well, And dressed himself a howling swell? Mahmoud.
Who sat so sweetly at my feet With red tarbouche and slippers neat And stirred my heart with many a beat? Mahmoud.
And now, when all the trip is done Rides to temples, and tombs, and fun, We may forget them all save one, Mahmoud.
Mahmoud took great pride in showing his many references in prose and rhyme, and the members of our party were glad to contribute in prose to his collection. But at the end of the week we presented him with another testimonial of a more practical kind.
"The Nile is a most wonderful river," remarked the professor one evening as we sat on the open deck watching the moonlight glisten on the green water. "Several other rivers rival it in length; the Congo is noted for its size; the Amazon, swelled by great tributaries, discharges a volume of water immensely greater; and the Missouri, including the Mississippi to the Gulf, may be longer; but the Nile is unique in that for twelve hundred miles it flows without a tributary through a rainless region. Not a drop of rain nor a single brook adds to its volume in all that distance, and a hot sun, canals, ditches, sakiyehs, shadoofs, and water carriers are continually taking away from it throughout every mile of its winding course. The river is wider here but it has less volume than one thousand miles farther up the stream. It is unique also in the regularity of the annual inundations, which begin on almost the same day, continue the same length of time, and rise to an almost similar height each year, and have done so annually for untold centuries. In our land a flood is a disaster causing loss and sorrow; in this country it is a blessing producing wealth and joy. When the slowly rising waters each year reach the figures on the stone column of the Nilometer which show that the Nile has spread abroad his fertile bounty by covering the cultivable lands, and has filled the dams and ditches for future needs, the news is spread abroad and the people rejoice with festivities and processions."
Before taking the trip on the Nile we had thought that the days on the river might become monotonous and tiresome; but we found, on the contrary, that every hour was full of interest. Each day some excursion on shore was taken. One day the patient donkeys carried the tourists on a long trip to the ruins of the great temple of Seti at Abydos to view its sculptured columns and famous list of kings. On another day carriages conveyed us to the rock tombs on the limestone hills above Assiout and we visited the bazaars and the noted potteries of that busy town. On the last day of our sail the donkeys of Bedrashen were called into service for a ride through the palm forest and green fields, past the fallen columns of Ramses, to Sakkara, the tombs of the sacred bulls, and the pictured tombs of Ptahhotep and Ti.
"This is the height of enjoyment," said a member of our party one day while we were lounging in easy chairs taking afternoon tea on the deck, and lazily watching the panoramic scenes as the Amasis steamed down the river.
It was scenes like these we looked upon. Along the banks of the river at short intervals, the shadoof man, or drawer of water, with his shadoof resembling an old-fashioned spring-pole or well sweep, drew up his dripping bucket and lowered it again, his only garment an apron at the waist.
All through the day the red-brown man Stands on his perch in the red-brown bank; Waters never more gratefully ran, Cucumbers never more greedily drank.
Where the bank was very high, a series of two, three, or four natives, each with his spring-pole, raised the water one to the other until it reached the top and was poured into the little channels that carried it over the rich, but very thirsty soil of a rainless land. On the river-bank, also, interspersed with the shadoofs of the poorer class of agriculturists, the more prosperous farmers, who were the happy possessors of buffaloes or camels, lifted the irrigating water from the stream by means of sakiyehs, or wooden power wheels, which creaked unceasingly as the patient camels or buffaloes, with eyes covered by blinders of mud, trod round and round the wheel.
Rough clout upon his patient head, The stately camel round doth go, With gentle hesitating tread; And yoked, and blind with frontlets, made Of black Nile mud, the buffalo Plies with him his unequal trade.
A large Dahabeah with rugs, easy chairs, and piano on deck, and the stars and stripes hanging listlessly overhead, floated by, propelled by fourteen Arab rowers—there being no wind to fill the sails. A drove of gray buffaloes, forty in number, were taking their bath, splashing the water like a party of schoolboys in a swimming pool. A group of women filled earthen jars at the water's edge, and with the dripping jars on their heads mounted the steep river bank. Here and there were irregular groups of mud huts, intersected by crooked alleys and surrounded by date palms, little villages where doves were flying overhead and from which came the sound of barking dogs to mingle with the puffs of the steamer. Flat-bottomed boats freighted with sugar cane lay with drooping sails in a noonday calm, or, later in the day, sped before the evening breeze. Near the pottery towns the river banks were dotted with yellow water jars in scattered piles ready for shipment to the city market. Immense stacks of the sugar-cane just harvested had been brought to the shore for conveyance to the sugar factories. And fields of cotton covered with white bloom extended into the distance.
We could see, too, the fertile Nile valley, not more than ten miles in breadth at its widest part, bounded on both sides by ranges of yellow, barren cliffs. On the western side the cliffs were farthest away; on the eastern side the valley was narrow, and the cliffs were sometimes distant, sometimes so near that they completely crowded out the cultivable soil and approached to the water's edge.
"There is something peculiar in the air of this dry land," observed one of the tourists after sitting quiet awhile. "The atmosphere lends a softness to the outlines of distant objects and adds delicate tints in the afternoon light. See how the barren cliffs are glorified with a flush of pink, the wheat fields are a brilliant green, and the barley fields, almost ready for the harvest, are golden. Even the mud huts and the white-washed mosque of that village on the western shore have lost their crude outlines and have become picturesque. At sunset the western sky will change to crimson and the eastern cliffs will change to gold. The sunsets, though, are not so gorgeous in coloring, nor do they show such striking contrasts as I have seen occasionally in my western home, but they are beautiful."
During the latter part of our sail down the Nile, where the river broadened and was shallow, we had some interesting experiences with sandbars.
"This is the Amasis' last trip of the season," said one of the officers as we stood on the upper deck at the bow of the steamer watching two sailors poling below. "The Nile always falls rapidly in the spring, the channels change, new sandbars form, and navigation becomes difficult. The water is now very low, and we have to be careful and alert wherever the river broadens as it does here before us."
On account of the indications of shallowness ahead the Amasis was steaming very slowly, occasionally merely drifting with the current. The two Arab boatmen stationed in the bow continually tested the depth of the water with poles and shouted in Arabic the results of their measurements to the anxious commander on the deck above. Notwithstanding these precautions, our steamer occasionally scraped on the sandbars, sometimes sticking on them for a short time.
"Surely this is an unlucky day," exclaimed the captain later, looking at his watch as we came within sight of a railroad bridge with a draw in it that was then being closed for an approaching train. "It is now four o'clock, and, according to the official rules, that drawbridge is closed for the day and will not be opened for steamers to pass through until nine o'clock to-morrow morning. We shall have to anchor here until that time. That last stop of half an hour on the sandbar robs us of half a day's time."
The delay at the bridge was provoking, but a greater test of the temper of the officers and patience of the passengers was to come. On Friday morning while at breakfast we felt a jar that caused the vessel suddenly to stop. We heard an unusual puffing of the engine and felt vibrations that caused the steamer to tremble and the dishes to rattle.
"What's the matter? What's the trouble?" cried several.
"Struck another sandbar," laconically remarked the doctor at the end of the table. "Eat your breakfast. We'll be off in a few minutes."
But succeeding events proved that the doctor was a false prophet. For during the next twenty hours the Amasis lay helpless in the midst of the stream, notwithstanding all the attempts of the officials and crew to free her from the bar, and it was not until Saturday morning that their efforts were crowned with success and the steamer floated free.
However, we took the doctor's advice the first morning and finished our omelet and coffee. Then we hurried to the deck to investigate and ask numberless questions of the worried officials. Our baggage had been packed in anticipation of landing before noon at Cairo, which was but sixty miles distant, and we feared that a delay might interfere with our plans for a busy afternoon of sight-seeing in the city.
"'Misery loves company,' says an old proverb. If that is true we should be happy," remarked one of the tourists as we gathered on the deck gazing at an animated scene. "Look! There are thirty boats in the same predicament as our own."
Within sight in different directions on the wide river lay thirty loaded feluccas stranded on the bars, and in addition to these were sixty-five others not aground. Alongside of one laden with live cattle a dozen sailors were in the shallow water, shouting and splashing, endeavoring to push their sloop off the bar. On many of the stranded sloops the sailors were transferring parts of their cargoes to other boats which were not aground. At some places the dark-hued laborers were shoveling grain from a stranded felucca into a lighter one; at others they were carrying unwieldy bundles of sugar-cane from one deck to another. Here they were handling, with much difficulty, large blocks of stone; there throwing yellow water-jars one at a time, passing red-bricks slowly, or shifting stacks of green clover from deck to deck. They accompanied the work of disburdening the vessels with strange cries and chants in which the name of Allah noticeably recurred, occasionally stopping to test the result of their labor by plunging into the water and pushing the felucca, or by shoving from its deck with long poles.
One of the officers of the Amasis with some sailors in a row-boat carried an anchor to its cable's length from the steamer and dropped it in the water, then a donkey-engine on deck to which the cable was attached was started and the steamer shook with the throbs of the engine endeavoring to pull it off the bar toward the anchor. Unsuccessful in tugging the steamer in that direction, they raised the anchor into the row-boat and took it to other locations one after another; but the engine panted and throbbed in vain. In the meantime the captain had gone to a village on the shore, had hired sixty natives, and brought them out in boats. The Arabs, dropping off their long blue gowns, and arrayed only in loin cloths, jumped into the water, which was not over three feet in depth. Then, placing their shoulders against the steamer, the gang of naked Arabs, chanting in unison a prayer to Allah for help and protection, pushed, or pretended to push, in order to assist the puffing engine in its task. With intermissions for rest, the pushing, the throbbing, and the chanting of the Arabic song, "Allah il Allah, Allah il Allah," continued during the remainder of the day.
There was so much of interest happening around them that the passengers could scarcely take time to eat their meals, and their disappointment in not reaching Cairo was almost forgotten.
"This has been to me one of the most interesting days of the trip. I will mark it with a red letter," said one of our party in the evening. "I do not regret the delay. I would not have missed those amusing and novel sights for anything."
When efforts were resumed at dawn on Saturday, the Amasis floated free, and before noon we arrived at Cairo. Our joyous trip on the Nile, with its pleasant associations of fellow voyagers, dragomen, donkey boys, temples, tombs, and gallops over the sand, was at an end.
NAPLES AND POMPEII.
By noon on Sunday, March twenty-second, the various parties had reassembled as one large family on board the Moltke in the harbor of Alexandria, and shortly afterward they saw the land of the palms disappear from sight below the horizon. Friends and acquaintances who had chosen different excursions on land and had been separated for some time had many experiences to relate to one another. Some, who had taken the Damascus trip, gave a description of the magnificent ruins of the famous temple of Baalbek and of the enormous size of the granite blocks which lay scattered over the ground at that place, and displayed bargains in hammered brass and silken rugs which they had secured in the bazaars of the oldest city in the world. Others, who had taken a sail on blue Galilee and a journey on horseback through the interior of Palestine, told of the unexpected luxuries of camp life, of squalid villages and more squalid inhabitants, of bridgeless streams that had to be forded, of Arab camps and Bedouin chiefs, and of towns, mountains, plains, and wells, the names of which were familiar to the student of the Bible. They showed to their friends albums in which they had pressed the flowers gathered in villages where the Savior once strayed, or culled in fields through which He probably had trod. Some who had taken a carriage ride to the Dead Sea and the River Jordan described the loneliness of the road and the armed Bedouin protectors who accompanied them, the dilapidated condition of Jericho, the desolate shores and bitter salty taste of the Sea, the muddy banks of the River Jordan and a row on the rapid stream. Their souvenirs were vials filled with salt water from the Sea, and bottles of the fresh, but not very clear water from Jordan's stream.
"The only place where we were treated with disrespect during our trip was in Hebron," said one of a group around a table in the library. "There the natives were an ill-tempered set. They scowled as if resentful of our presence, and when we were driving away some hoodlums of the town threw chunks of mud and stone after our carriage."
"That reminds me," said another, "of a picture I want to show you. On the landing at Esneh up the Nile we thought that our clothes would be torn to pieces by the natives, but not through ill-will. The donkey boys were so eager to secure our custom that a struggle ensued in which donkey boys, donkeys, and tourists were inextricably mixed until the dragoman used his whip. My brother took a snap-shot of the scene just as Achmet raised his whip."
Some of the tourists had stayed ten days in Jerusalem, some twelve days in Cairo, others had been at Philae and the Cataract of the Nile. Each one was enthusiastic over his trip and appeared to be satisfied with the way in which the eighteen days in Palestine and Egypt had been spent.
Monday dawned cloudy with some wind and rain, and although the weather was not stormy, the boat had that uneasy motion which had been felt once before on the Mediterranean. Many of the tourists, believing prevention better than cure, remained in their staterooms, or, snugly wrapped, reclined in their steamer chairs on deck and had luncheon served to them there, fewer than half the seats at the dining table being occupied.
On Tuesday, however, the sea was as smooth as a river. The "Captain's Dinner," which had been postponed from the previous day on account of the weather, was announced for the evening, and the dining room was handsomely decorated with flags, garlands of artificial roses, and additional lights for the special occasion. The depression of Monday was forgotten and the tourists were in a happy humor.
At the dinner the Captain made a neat speech referring to the pleasant relations during the voyage and the separation which was shortly to take place. The judge, in behalf of the passengers, responded in a jovial vein. "Three cheers for the Captain" were given with enthusiasm, followed by "He's a jolly good fellow," heartily sung. Every one arose as the orchestra played "America," and later, when the stars and stripes were dropped from overhead, all rose again to accompany the orchestra in the "Star Spangled Banner." Then the electric lights were turned out and while we sat in darkness, the stewards and waiters, dressed in fantastic costumes of various nations, entered and in a long procession marched around the room, each waiter carrying aloft an illuminated tower of ice-cream, and each steward a dish of bonbons. When the bonbons, containing whistles and fancy caps, were opened, the dignity of judge, professor, and minister was laid aside and the tourists were a joyous, noisy crowd of children.
While we were at dinner the promenade deck was cleared of chairs, decorated with flags, and illuminated with Chinese lanterns in preparation for a masked ball which was to be the crowning and closing event of the day. In this fancy-dress carnival many of the passengers appeared dressed in fantastic gowns prepared during the day, or as Orientals in costumes that had been purchased in Eastern cities.
While the maskers and onlookers were enjoying the music and sport, the Moltke was steaming northward through the Strait of Messina. On the right shone the lighthouses of Italy and the lights of the Italian town of Reggio; on the left gleamed the flash-lights of Sicily and long rows of twinkles revealed the location of the large city of Messina.
On rising Wednesday morning we found the sea perfectly smooth with scarcely a ripple to disturb its blue surface. The Moltke was speeding through the waters with an almost imperceptible motion. On our left was the island of Capri, famous for its blue grotto, and the morning sunlight playing on its rugged shores, revealed a white road cut in the rocky cliffs, zigzagging up the side of the hill from the village at the base to the village on the summit. As the steamer coasted the Italian shore, we saw dimly through the mist the bay and town of Salerno, then picturesque Sorrento perched among the rocks, and, in the distance, fog-crowned Mount Vesuvius with a thin column of smoke ascending from the crater, and many towns and villages at its base. Directly ahead of us were the bay of Naples and the city, partially hidden from our sight by a fog. Just before reaching the quarantine station a small steamer crowded with passengers emerged from the fog and crossed the course of the Moltke, narrowly escaping destruction.