chapter  I
Pages 10

IT was with a mingled sensation of joy and regret, of hope and fear, that I embarked on board a dakabia which lay moored at BOll/ale, the port of Cairo; and, with a sad ancl lingering look, bade farewell to Egypt and railways-e-to Egypt and the last vestige of civilized life. Our crew, who with the exception of the rais, were all natives of Nubia, received me and my companion with grins and smiles which, to the surprise of their baksheesh - longing cupidity, we returned with liberal interest in the same ephemeral currency. The wind being favourable, the cable was instantly loosed, the lateen sail unfurled, and amidst the usual

accompaniment of disputes and quarrels, bustle and confusion, our boat swept past the peasant's hut and the Pasha's palace-s-the pleasure-grounds of the living and the time-defying tombs of the dead-till evening veiled garden and pyramid, hovel and hall, from the admiring gaze. The wind, which increased with the advance of night, propelled our craft at such a rapid rate, that, notwithstanding the varied attractions on the banks of the Nile, we continued Ollr voyage with no other interruption than an occasional brush from a floating stack of straw, or a jerk on the shallow bed of the river. Our sailors, to dispel their drowsy feeling, entertained themselves with stories of Gins and Ghouls, that might have excited the envy of the inventive Scheherazadee. Omar, a stalwart athletic black, whose dark and fiery eyes, as he sat crosslegged on the deck, shone like two coals gleaming out of a heap of expiring embers, particularly excelled in this wonderful art. His audience, rapt in the deepest attention, when he carne to a grand climax evinced their interest by exclaiming, "There is no Inight or po"Ter, except in Allah the exalted and good." I do not know how long tIle story-teller spoke, and his friends listened. I experienced a kind of weariness creeping over Ine, and, whilst my thoughts were still with the dramatic persona WIlO had engaged our sympathy, a spirit of forgetfulness overwhelmed my senses, and Sol!l1nan and his ring, as well as Mohammed and his horse Barek, were both shut out from my mind by a sound and welcome sleep.