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Title: Mentone, Cairo, and Corfu
Author: Woolson, Constance Fenimore, 1840-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mentone, Cairo, and Corfu" ***

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    THE FRONT YARD, Etc. Illustrated. $1 25.
    ANNE. Illustrated. $1 25.
    EAST ANGELS. $1 25.
    JUPITER LIGHTS. $1 25.
    HORACE CHASE. $1 25.
    CASTLE NOWHERE. $1 00.
    FOR THE MAJOR. Illustrated. $1 00.


Copyright, 1895, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

_All rights reserved._


The substance of this collection of Miss Woolson's sketches of travel in
the Mediterranean originally appeared in HARPER'S MAGAZINE. "At Mentone"
was published in that periodical in 1884; "Cairo in 1890," and "Corfu
and the Ionian Sea," appeared in 1891 and 1892. As presented in this
volume, the two sketches last mentioned contain much interesting
material not included in their original form as magazine articles.



AT MENTONE                      3

CAIRO IN 1890                 149




STREET IN THE NEW QUARTER OF CAIRO                         _Frontispiece_

AT MENTONE                                                             5

THE OLD TOWN                                                           9

A STREET IN THE OLD TOWN                                              13

RUE LONGUE BLOCKADED BY AN ARTIST                                     19

THE CORNICE ROAD, MENTONE                                             23

"TO ITALY"--PONT ST. LOUIS                                            27

THE PALMS OF BORDIGHERA                                               31

THE BONE CAVERNS                                                      37

THE PROFESSOR DISCOURSES                                              43

THE WASHER-WOMEN                                                      49

OIL MILL                                                              55

A MEDITERRANEAN BOAT                                                  60

BRINGING LEMONS FROM THE TERRACE                                      63

ON THE WAY TO L'ANNUNZIATA                                            69

THE MONASTERY OF L'ANNUNZIATA                                         74

CAPUCHIN MONKS                                                        77

MONACO                                                                83

STREET IN ROCCABRUNA                                                  91

THE KING OF THE OLIVES                                                97

FEUDAL TOWER NEAR VENTIMIGLIA                                        102

DOLCE ACQUA                                                          107

PIFFERARI                                                            113

MONACO--THE PALACE AND PORT                                          117

ENTRANCE TO THE PALACE, MONACO                                       121

THE SALLE GRIMALDI, IN THE PALACE, MONACO                            126

THE RIDE TO SANT' AGNESE                                             129

VIEW FROM SANT' AGNESE                                               134

FÊTE, VILLAGE OF SANT' AGNESE                                        137

VESTIGES OF ROMAN MONUMENTS                                          140

THE STATUE IN THE CEMETERY                                           143

CONTEMPORARY PORTRAIT OF CLEOPATRA                                   149

THE NILE BRIDGE, CAIRO                                               154

BEFORE THE LITTLE MOSQUE                                             158

TOMB-MOSQUE OF KAIT BEY                                              161

A SELLER OF WATER-JUGS, CAIRO                                        167

STATUE OF PRINCE RAHOTEP'S WIFE                                      172

THE WOODEN MAN                                                       175

AN EGYPTIAN WOMAN                                                    181

THE NILE--COMING DOWN TO GET WATER                                   187

THE DOCK AT OLD CAIRO                                                191

MOUCHRABIYEHS IN THE OLD QUARTER                                     195

INTERIOR COURT OF A NATIVE HOUSE, CAIRO                              199

A DONKEY RIDE                                                        205

AN ARAB CAFÉ                                                         209

HEAD-PIECE                                                           212

PORCH OF EL AZHAR                                                    215

STUDENTS IN THE OUTER COURT, EL AZHAR                                221

BEFORE THE SACRED NICHE                                              227

OUTER ENTRANCE OF THE CITADEL, CAIRO                                 233

A MECCA DOOR                                                         237

THE ROAD TO CHOUBRA                                                  239


THE KHEDIVE                                                          247


AN EGYPTIAN DANCING-GIRL                                             259

THE INUNDATION NEAR CAIRO                                            267

A MOHAMMEDAN CEMETERY, CAIRO                                         278

SOUVENIRS OF CAIRO                                                   279

HEAD-PIECE                                                           283

PART OF THE TOWN OF CORFU                                            287

THE PALACE                                                           293

UNIVERSITY OF THE IONIAN ISLANDS                                     294


STATUE OF CAPO D'ISTRIA                                              299

THE TOMB OF MENEKRATES                                               305

THE ISLET CALLED "THE SHIP OF ULYSSES"                               311

VILLAGE OF PELLEKA                                                   315

KING GEORGE OF GREECE                                                319

QUEEN OLGA OF GREECE                                                 323



ALBANIAN MALE COSTUME                                                335

ALBANIAN FEMALE COSTUME                                              339

GALA COSTUME, CORFU                                                  343

OLIVE GROVE, CORFU                                                   351



"_Kennst du das Land wo die Citronen blühen?_"

It is of no consequence why or how we came to Mentone. The vast subject
of health and health resorts, of balancings between Torquay and Madeira,
Algeria and Sicily, and, in a smaller sphere, between Cannes, Nice,
Mentone, and San Remo, may as well be left at one side while we happily
imitate the Happy-thought Man's trains in Bradshaw, which never "start,"
but "arrive." We therefore arrived. Our party, formed not by selection,
or even by the survival of the fittest (after the ocean and Channel),
but simply by chance aggregation, was now composed of Mrs. Trescott and
her daughter Janet, Professor Mackenzie, Miss Graves, the two youths
Inness and Baker, my niece, and myself, myself being Jane Jefferson,
aged fifty, and my niece Margaret Severin, aged twenty-eight.

As I said above, we were an aggregation. The Trescotts had started
alone, but had "accumulated" (so Mrs. Trescott informed me) the
Professor. The Professor had started alone, and had accumulated the
Trescotts. Inness and Baker had started singly, but had first
accumulated each other, and then ourselves; while Margaret and I, having
accumulated Miss Graves, found ourselves, with her, imbedded in the
aggregation, partly by chance and partly by that powerful force
propinquity. Arriving at Mentone, our aggregation went unbroken to the
Hôtel des Anglais, in the East Bay--the East Bay, the Professor said,
being warmer than the West: the Professor had been at Mentone before.
"The East Bay," he explained, "is warmer because more closely encircled
by the mountains, which rise directly behind the house. The West Bay has
more level space, and there are several little valleys opening into it,
through which currents of air can pass; it is therefore cooler, but only
a matter of two or three degrees." It was evening, and our omnibus
proceeded at a pace adapted to the "Dead March" from _Saul_ through a
street so narrow and walled in that it was like going through catacombs.
Only, as Janet remarked, they did not crack whips in the catacombs, and
here the atmosphere seemed to be principally cracks. But the Professor
brought up the flagellants who might have been there, and they remained
up until we reached our destination. We decided that the cracking of
whips and the wash of the sea were the especial sounds of Mentone; but
the whips ceased at nightfall, and the waves kept on, making a soft
murmurous sound which lulled us all to restful slumber. We learned later
that all vehicles are obliged, by orders from the town authorities, to
proceed at a snail's pace through the narrow street of the "old town,"
the city treasury not being rich enough to pay for the number of wooden
legs and arms which would be required were this rule disregarded.

[Illustration: AT MENTONE]

The next morning when we opened our windows there entered the
Mediterranean Sea. It is the bluest water in the world; not a clear cold
blue like that of the Swiss lakes, but a soft warm tint like that of
June sky, shading off on the horizon, not into darker blue or gray,
but into the white of opal and mother-of-pearl. With the sea came in
also the sunshine. The sunshine of Mentone is its glory, its riches, its
especial endowment. Day follows day, month follows month, without a
cloud; the air is pure and dry, fog is unknown. "The sun never stops
shining;" and to show that this idea, which soon takes possession of one
there, is not without some foundation, it can be stated that the average
number of days upon which the sun does shine, as the phrase is, all day
long is two hundred and fifty-nine; that is, almost nine months out of
the twelve. "All the world is cheered by the sun," writes Shakespeare;
and certainly "cheer" is the word that best expresses the effect of the
constant sunshine of Mentone.

We all came to breakfast with unclouded foreheads; even the three fixed
wrinkles which crossed Mrs. Trescott's brow (she always alluded to them
as "midnight oil") were not so deep as usual, and her little countenance
looked as though it had been, if not ironed, at least smoothed out by
the long sleep in the soft air. She floated into the sunny
breakfast-room in an aureola of white lace, with Janet beside her, and
followed by Inness and Baker. Margaret and I had entered a moment before
with Miss Graves, and presently Professor Mackenzie joined us, radiating
intelligence through his shining spectacles to that extent that I
immediately prepared myself for the "Indeeds?" "Is it possibles?" "You
surprise me," with which I was accustomed to assist him, when, after
going all around the circle in vain for an attentive eye, he came at
last to mine, which are not beautiful, but always, I trust, friendly to
the friendless. Yet so self-deceived is man that I have no doubt but
that if at this moment interrogated as to his best listener during that
journey and sojourn at Mentone, he would immediately reply, "Miss

People were coming in and out of the room while we were there, the
light Continental "first breakfast" of rolls and coffee or tea not
detaining them long. Two, however, were evidently loitering, under a
flimsy pretext of reading the unflimsy London _Times_, in order to have
a longer look at Janet; these two were Englishmen. Was Janet, then,
beautiful? That is a question hard to answer. She was a slender,
graceful girl with a delicate American face, small, well-poised head,
sweet voice, quiet manner, and eyes--well, yes, the expression in
Janet's eyes was certainly a remarkable endowment. It could never be
fixed in colors; it cannot be described in ink; it may perhaps be
faintly indicated as each gazing man's ideal promised land. And this
centre was surrounded by such a blue and childlike unconsciousness that
every new-comer tumbled in immediately, as into a blue lake, and never

"You have been roaming, Professor," said Mrs. Trescott, as he took his
seat; "you have a fine breezy look of the sea. I heard the wa-ash,
wa-ash, upon the beach all night. But _you_ have been out early,
communing with Aurora. Do not deny it."

The Professor had no idea of denying it. "I have been as far as the West
Bay," he said, taking a roll. "Mentone has two bays, the East, where we
are, and the West, the two being separated by the port and the 'old
town.' Behind us, on the north, extends the double chain of mountains,
the first rising almost directly from the sea, the second and higher
chain behind, so that the two together form a screen, which completely
protects this coast. Thus sheltered, and opening only towards the south,
the bays of Mentone are like a conservatory, and _we_ like the plants
growing within." (This, for the Professor, was quite poetical.)

[Illustration: THE OLD TOWN]

"I have often thought that to be a flower in a conservatory would be a
happy lot," observed Janet. "One could have of the perfumes, sit
still all the time, and never be out in the rain."

"I trust, Miss Trescott, you have not often been exposed to inclement
weather?" said the Professor, looking up.

_He_ meant rain; but Mrs. Trescott, who took it upon herself to answer
him, always meant metaphor. "Not yet," she answered; "no inclement
weather yet for my child, because I have stood between. But the time may
come when, _that_ barrier removed--" Here she waved her little claw-like
hand, heavy with gems, in a sort of sepulchral suggestiveness, and took
refuge in coffee.

The Professor, who supposed the conversation still concerned the
weather, said a word or two about the excellent English umbrella he had
purchased in London, and then returned to his discourse. "The first
mountains behind us," he remarked, "are between three and four thousand
feet high; the second chain attains a height of eight and nine thousand
feet, and, stretching back, mingles with the Swiss Alps. _Our_ name is
Alpes Maritimes; we run along the coast in this direction" (indicating
it on the table-cloth with his spoon), "and at Genoa we become the
Apennines. The winter climate of Mentone is due, therefore, to its
protected situation; cold winds from the north and northeast, coming
over these mountains behind us, pass far above our heads, and advance
several miles over the sea before they fall into the water. The mistral,
too, that scourge of Southern France, that wind, cold, dry, and sharp,
bringing with it a yellow haze, is unknown here, kept off by a
fortunately placed shoulder of mountain running down into the sea on the

"Indeed?" I said, seeing the search for a listener beginning.

"Yes," he replied, starting on anew, encouraged, but, as usual, not
noticing from whom the encouragement came--"yes; and the sirocco is
even pleasant here, because it comes to us over a wide expanse of water.
The characteristics of a Mentone winter are therefore sunshine,
protection from the winds, and dryness. It is, in truth, remarkably

"Very," said Inness.

"I have scarcely ever seen it equalled," remarked Baker.

Margaret smiled, but I looked at the two youths reprovingly. Mrs.
Trescott said, "Dry? Do you find it so? But you are young, whereas _I_
have reminiscences. _Tears_ are not dry."

They certainly are not; but why she should have alluded to them at that
moment, no one but herself knew. There was a mystery about some of Mrs.
Trescott's moods which made her society interesting: no one could ever
tell what she would say next.

After breakfast we sat awhile in the garden, where there were palm,
lemon, and orange trees, high woody bushes of heliotrope, grotesque
growth of cactus, and the great gray-blue swords of the century-plant.
Before us stretched the sea. Even if we had not known it, we should have
felt sure that its waters laved tropical shores somewhere, and that it
was the reflection of those far skies which we caught here.

Miss Graves now joined us, with an acquaintance she had discovered, a
Mrs. Clary, who had "spent several winters at Mentone," and who adored
"every stone of it." This phrase, which no doubt sounded well coming
from Mrs. Clary, who was an impulsive person, with fine dark eyes and
expressive mobile face, assumed a comical aspect when repeated by the
sober voice of Miss Graves. Mrs. Clary, laughing, hastened to explain;
and Miss Graves, noticing Mrs. Trescott on a bench in the shade, where
she and her laces had floated down, said, warningly, "I should advise
you to rise; I have just learned that the shade of Mentone is of the
most deadly nature, and to be avoided like a scorpion."

[Illustration: A STREET IN THE OLD TOWN]

Mrs. Trescott and her laces floated up. "Is it damp?" she asked,

"No," replied Miss Graves, "it is not damp. It does not know how to be
damp at Mentone. But the shade is deadly, all the same. Now in Florida
it was otherwise." And she went into the house to get a white umbrella.

"Matilda's temperament is really Alpine," said Mrs. Clary, smiling. "I
have always felt that she would be cold even in heaven."

"In that case," said Baker, "she might try--" But he had the grace to

"What is it about the shade?" I asked.

"Only this," said Mrs. Clary: "as the warmth is due to the heat of the
sun, and not to the air, which is cool, there is more difference between
the sunshine and shade here than we are accustomed to elsewhere. But
surely it is a small thing to remember. The treasure of Mentone is its
sunshine: in it, safety; out of it, danger."

"Like Mr. Micawber's income," said Margaret, smiling. "Amount, twenty
shillings; you spend nineteen shillings and sixpence--riches; twenty
shillings and sixpence--bankruptcy."

A little later we went down to the "old town," as the closely built
village of the Middle Ages, clinging to the side hill, and hardly
changed in the long lapse of centuries, is called. The "old town" lies
between the East Bay and the West Bay, as the body of a bird lies
between the two long, slender wings.

"The West Bay has its Promenade du Midi, and the East Bay has its
sea-wall," said Mrs. Clary. "I like a sea-wall."

"This one does not _approach_ that at St. Augustine," said Miss Graves.

"Here is one of the fountains or wells," said Mrs. Clary. "You will soon
see that going for water and gossiping at the well are two occupations
of the women everywhere in this region. It comes, I suppose, from the
scarcity of water, which is brought in pipes from long distances to
these wells, to which the women must go for all the water needed by
their households. Notice the classic shapes of the jugs and jars they
bear on their heads. Those green ones might be majolica."

We now turned up a paved ascent, and passing under a broad stone
archway, entered the "old town," through whose narrow, lane-like streets
no vehicle could be driven, through some of them hardly a donkey. The
principal avenue, the Rue Longue, but a few feet in width, was smoothly
paved and clean; but walking there was like being at the bottom of a
well, so far above and so narrow was the little ribbon of blue sky at
the top. Unbroken stone walls rose on each side, directly upon the
street, five and six stories in height, shutting out the sunshine; and
these tall gray walls were often joined above our heads also by arches,
"like uncelebrated bridges of sighs," Janet said. These closely built
continuous blocks were the homes of the native population, "old
Mentone," unspoiled by progress and strangers. The low doorways showed
stone steps ascending somewhere in the darkness, showed low-ceilinged
rooms, whose only light was from the door, where were mothers and
babies, men mending shoes, women sewing and occupied with household
tasks, as calmly as though daylight was not the natural atmosphere of
mankind, but rather their own dusky gloom. Outside the doors little
black-eyed children sat on the pavement, eating the dark sour bread of
the country, and here and there old women in circular white hats like
large dinner plates were spinning thread with distaff and spindle. Above
were some bits of color: pots of flowers on high window-sills,
bright-hued rags hung out to dry, or a dark-eyed girl, with red kerchief
tied over her black braids, looking down.

"It is all like a scene from an opera," said Janet.

"Oh no," said Mrs. Clary; "say rather that it is like a scene from the
Middle Ages."

"That is what I mean," said Janet. "The scenes in the operas are
generally from the Middle Ages."

"The chorus _always_," said Baker.

"It is a pity you cannot see the old mansion of the Princes," said Mrs.
Clary. "But I see the street is blockaded just now by the artist."

"By the artist?" said Janet.

"Yes; this one, a Frenchman, is rather broad-shouldered, and when he is
at work he blockades the street. However, the mansion is not especially
interesting; it was built by one of the later Princes with the stones of
the ruined castle above, and has, I believe, only a vaulted hallway and
one or two marble pillars. It is now a lodging-house. I saw dancing-dogs
going up the stairway yesterday."

From the Rue Longue we had turned into a labyrinth of crooked,
staircase-like lanes, winding here and there from side to side, but
constantly ascending, the whole net-work, owing to the number of arches
thrown across above, seeming to be half underground, but in reality a
honey-combed erection clinging to the steep hill-side.

"Dancing-dogs!" said Janet, pausing in the darkest of these turnings.
"Let us go back and see them."

But we all exclaimed against this; Mrs. Trescott's little old feet were
wearied with curling over the round stones, and Margaret was tired.
Inness and Baker offered to make dancing-dogs of themselves for the
remainder of the morning, and dogs, too, of a very superior quality, if
she would only go on.

The Professor, who, in his "winnowing progress," as Mrs. Trescott
called it, had fallen behind, now joined us, followed by Miss Graves.

"I have just witnessed a remarkably interesting little ceremony," he
began, "quite mediæval--a herald, with his trumpet, making an
announcement through the streets. I could not comprehend all he said,
but no doubt it was something of importance to the community."

"It was," said Miss Graves's monotonous voice. "He was telling them that
excellent sausage-meat was now to be obtained at a certain shop for a
price much lower than before."

"Ah," said the Professor. Then, rallying, he added, "But the ceremony
was the same."

"Certainly," I said, with my usual unappreciated benevolence.

"I wonder what induced these people to build their houses upon such a
crag as this, when they had the whole sunny coast to choose from?" said

The Professor, charmed with this idle little speech (which he took for a
thirst for knowledge), hastened by several of us as we walked in single
file, in order to be nearer to the questioner.

"You may not be aware, Miss Trescott," he began (she was still in
advance, but he hoped to make up the distance), "that this whole shore,
called the Riviera--"

"Let us begin fairly," I said. "What _is_ the Riviera?"

"It is heaven," said Mrs. Clary.


"It is the coast of the Gulf of Genoa," said the Professor, "extending
both eastward and westward from the city of that name. On the west it
extends geographically to Nice; but Cannes and Antibes are generally
included. This shore-line, then, has been subject from a very early date
to attacks from the pirates of the Mediterranean, who swept down upon
the coast and carried off as slaves all who came in their way. To
escape the horrors of this slavery the inhabitants chose situations like
this steep hill-side, and crowded their stone dwellings closely together
so that they formed continuous walls, which were often joined also by
arched bridges, like these above us now, and connected by dark and
winding passageways below, so that escape was easy and pursuit
impossible. It was a veritable--"

"Rabbit-warren," suggested Baker.

Inness made no suggestions; he was next to the Professor, and fully
occupied in blocking, with apparent entire unconsciousness, all his
efforts to pass and join Janet.

The Professor, not accepting, however, the rabbit-warren, continued: "As
recently as 1830, Miss Trescott, when the French took possession of
Algiers, they found there thousands of miserable Christian slaves,
natives of this northern shore, who had been seized on the coast or
taken from their fishing-boats at sea. There are men now living in
Mentone who in their youth spent years as slaves in Tunis and Algiers.
These pirates, these scourges of the Mediterranean, were Saracens,

"Saracens!" said Janet, with an accent of admiration; "what a lovely
word it is! What visions of romance and adventure it brings up,
especially when spelled with two r's, so as to be Sarrasins! It is even
better than Paynim."

I could not see how the Professor took this, because we were now all
entirely in the dark, groping our way along a passage which apparently
led through cellars.

"We are in an _impasse_, or blind passage," called Mrs. Clary from
behind; "we had better go back."

Hearing this, we all retraced our steps--at least, we supposed we did.
But when we reached comparative daylight again we found that Janet,
Inness, and Baker were not with us; they had found a way through that
_impasse_, although we could not, and were sitting high above us on a
white wall in the sunshine, when, breathless, we at last emerged from
the labyrinth and discovered them.

"That looks like a cemetery," said Mrs. Trescott, disapprovingly,
disentangling her lace shawl from a bush. "You _said_ it was a castle."
She addressed the Professor, and with some asperity; she did not like

"It was the castle," explained our learned guide; "the castle erected in
1502, by one of the Princes, upon the site of a still earlier one, built
in 1250."

"That Prince used the ruins of his ancestors as his descendants
afterwards used his," observed Margaret, referring to the mansion in the
street below.

"Possibly," said the Professor. He never gave Margaret more than a
possibility; although a man of hyphens and semicolons, he generally
dismissed her with an early period. "These old arches and buttresses,"
he continued, turning to Mrs. Trescott, "were once part of the castle.
Turreted walls extended from here down to the sea."

"What they did once, of course I do not know," said Mrs. Trescott,
implacably, "but now they plainly enclose a cemetery. Janet! Janet! come
down! we are going back." And she turned to descend.

"The cemetery is a lovely spot," said Mrs. Clary, as we lingered a
moment looking at the white marble crosses gleaming above us, outlined
against the blue sky.


"Some other time," I answered, following Mrs. Trescott. For the quiet,
lovely gardens where we lay our dead had too strong an attraction for
Margaret already. She was fond of lingering amid their perfume and their
silence, and she sought this one the next day, and afterwards often
went there. It was a peculiar little cemetery, alone on the height, and
walled like a fortress; but it was beautiful in its way, lifted up
against the sky and overlooking the sea. On the eastern edge was a
monument, the seated figure of a woman with her hands gently clasped,
her eyes gazing over the water; the face was lovely, and not
idealized--the face of a woman, not an angel. Margaret took a fancy to
this white watcher on the height, and often stole away to look at the
sunset, seated near it. I think she identified its loneliness somewhat
with herself.

We went through the labyrinth again, but by another route, not quite so
dark and piratical, although equally narrow. Miss Graves liked nothing
she saw, but walked on unmoved, save that at intervals she observed that
it was "deathly cold" in these "stony lanes," and "_must_ be unhealthy."
Mrs. Clary's assertion that the people looked remarkably vigorous only
called out a shake of the head; Miss Graves was set upon "fever." It was
amusing to see how carefully all the houses were numbered, up and down
these break-neck little streets, through the narrowest burrows, and
under the darkest arches. Here and there some citizen wealthier than his
neighbors had painted his section of front in bright pink or yellow, and
perhaps adorned his Madonna in her little shrine over the door with new
robes, those broadly contrasted blues and reds of Italy, which American
eyes must learn by gradual education to admire; or, if not by education,
then by residence; for he will find himself liking them naturally after
a while, as a relief from the unchanging white light of the Italian day.
We came down by way of the square or piazza on the hill-side, to and
from which broad flights of steps ascend and descend. Here are the two
churches of St. Michael and the White Penitents, whose campaniles, with
that of the Black Penitents beyond, make the "three spires of Mentone,"
which stand out so picturesquely one above the other, visible in profile
far to the east and the west on the sharp angle of the hill.

"The different use of the same word in different languages is droll,"
said Margaret. "French writers almost always speak of these little
country church-spires as 'coquettes.'"

"There is a Turkish lance here somewhere," said Inness, emerging
unexpectedly from what I had thought was a cellar. "It is in one of
these churches. It was taken at the battle of Lepanto, and is a
'glorious relic.' We must see it."

"No," said Janet, appearing with Baker at the top of a flight of steps
which I had supposed was the back entrance of a private house, "we will
not see it, but imagine it. I want to go homeward by the Rue Longue."

"Now, Janet, if you mean those dancing-dogs--" began Mrs. Trescott.

"I had forgotten their very existence, mamma. I was thinking of
something quite different." Here she turned towards the Professor. "I
was hoping that Professor Mackenzie would feel like telling me something
of Mentone in the past, as we walk through that quaint old street."

"He feels like it--feels like it day and night," said Baker to Inness,
behind me. "He's a perfect statistics Niagara."

"Look at him now, gorged with joy!" said Inness, indignantly. "But I'll
floor him yet, and on his own ground, too. I'll study up, and _then_
we'll see!"

But the Professor, not hearing this threat, had already begun, and begun
(for him) quite gayly. "The origin of Mentone, Miss Trescott, has been
attributed to the pirates, and also to Hercules."

"I have always been _so_ interested in Hercules," replied that young

[Illustration: "TO ITALY"--PONT ST. LOUIS]

"Mythical--mythical," said the Professor. "I merely mentioned it as one
of the legends. To come down to facts--always much more impressive to a
rightly disposed mind--the first mention of Mentone, _per se_, on the
authentic page of history, occurs in the eighth century. In A.D. 975 it
belonged to the Lascaris, Counts of Ventimiglia, a family of royal
origin and Greek descent."

"Are there any of them left?" inquired Janet.

"I really do not know," replied the Professor, who was not interested in
that branch of the subject. "In the fourteenth century the village
passed into the possession of the Grimaldi family, Princes of Monaco,
and they held it, legally at least, until 1860, when it was attached to

"He is really quite Cyclopean in his information," murmured Mrs.

But the Professor had now discovered Inness, who, with an expression of
deepest interest on his face, was walking close at his heels, and
writing as he walked in a note-book.

"What are you doing, sir?" said the Professor, in his college tone.

"Taking notes," replied Inness, respectfully. "Miss Trescott may feel
willing to trust her memory, but _I_ wish to preserve your remarks for
future reference," and he went on with his writing.

The Professor looked at him sharply, but the youth's face remained
immovable, and he went on.

"These three little towns, then, Mentone, Roccabruna, and Monaco, have
belonged to the Princes of Monaco since the early Middle Ages."

"Those dear Middle Ages!" said Mrs. Clary.

The Professor gravely looked at her, and then repeated his phrase, as if
linking together his remarks over her unimportant head. "As I
observed--the early Middle Ages. But in 1848 Mentone and Roccabruna,
unable longer to endure the tyranny of their rulers, revolted and
declared their independence. The Prince at that time lived in Paris,
knew little of his subjects, and apparently cared less, save to get from
them through agents as much income as possible for his Parisian
luxuries." (Impossible to describe the accent which our Puritan
Professor gave to those two words.) "His little territory produced only
olives, oranges, and lemons. By his order the oranges and lemons were
taxed so heavily that the poor peasant owner made nothing from his toil;
his olives, also, must be ground at the 'Prince's mill,' where a higher
price was demanded than elsewhere. Finally an even more odious monopoly
was established: all subjects were compelled to purchase the 'Prince's
bread,' which, made from cheap grain bought on the docks of Marseilles
and Genoa, was often unfit to eat. So severe were the laws that any
traveller entering the principality must throw away at the boundary line
all bread he might have with him, and the captain of a vessel having on
board a single slice upon arrival in port was heavily fined. This state
of things lasted twenty-five years, during which period the Prince in
Paris spent annually his eighty thousand dollars, gained from this poor
little domain of eight or nine thousand souls." The Professor in his
heat stood still, and we all stood still with him. The Mentonnais,
looking down from their high windows and up from their dark little
doors, no doubt wondered what we were talking about; they little knew it
was their own story.

"A revolution made by bread. And ours was made by tea," observed Janet,

"We need now only one made by butter, to be complete," said Inness.

Again the Professor scrutinized him, but discovered nothing.


_I_, however, discovered something, although not from Inness; I
discovered why Janet had wished to pass a second time through that Rue
Longue. For here was the French artist sketching the old mansion, and
with him (she could not have known this, of course; but chance always
favored Janet) were the two Englishmen, the respectful gazers of the
breakfast-table, sketching also. There were therefore six artistic eyes
instead of two to dwell upon her as she approached, passed, and went
onward, her slender figure outlined against the light coming through the
archway beyond, old St. Julian's Gate, a remnant of feudal
fortification. Artists are not slack in the use of their eyes; an
"artistic gaze" is not considered a stare. I was obliged to repeat this
axiom to Baker, who did not appreciate it, but looked as though he would
like to go back and artistically demolish those gazers. He contented
himself, however, with the remark that water-color sketches were "weak,
puling daubs," and then he went on through the old archway as
majestically as he could.

"One of the features of Mentone seems to be the number of false windows
carefully painted on the outside of the houses, windows adorned with
blinds, muslin curtains, pots of flowers, and even gay rugs hanging over
the sill," said Margaret.

"And then the frescos," I added--"landscapes, trees, gods and goddesses,
in the most brilliant colors, on the side of the house."

"_I_ like it," said Mrs. Clary; "it is so tropical."

"You commend falsity, then," said Miss Graves. "_What_ can be more false
than a false rug?"

We went homeward by the sea-wall, and saw some boys coming up from the
beach with a basket of sea-urchins. "They eat them, you know," said Mrs.

"Is that tropical too?" said Janet, shuddering.

"It is, after all, but a difference in custom," observed the Professor.
"I myself have eaten puppies in China, and found them not unpalatable."

Janet surveyed him; then fell behind and joined Inness and Baker.

Some fishermen on the beach were talking to two women with red
handkerchiefs on their heads, who were leaning over the sea-wall. "Their
language is a strange patois," said the Professor; "it is composed of a
mixture of Italian, French, Spanish, and even Arabic."

"But the people themselves are thoroughly Italian, I think, in spite of
the French boundary line," said Margaret. "They are a handsome race,
with their dark eyes, thick hair, and rich coloring."

"I have never bestowed much thought upon beauty _per se_," responded the
Professor. "The imperishable mind has far more interest."

"How much of the imperishable M. do you possess, Miss Trescott?" I heard
Inness murmur.

"Breakfast" was served at one o'clock in the large dining-room, and we
found ourselves opposite the two English artists, and a young lady whom
they called "Miss Elaine."

"Elaine is bad enough; but 'Miss Elaine'!" said Margaret aside to me.

However, Miss Elaine seemed very well satisfied with herself and her
Tennysonian title. She was a short, plump blonde, with a high color, and
I could see that she regarded Janet with pity as she noted her slender
proportions and delicate complexion in the one exhaustive glance with
which girls survey each other when they first meet. We were some time at
the table, but during the first five minutes both of the artists
succeeded in offering some slight service to Mrs. Trescott which gave an
opportunity for opening a conversation. The taller of the two, called
"Verney" by his friend, advised for the afternoon an expedition up the
Cornice Road to the "Pont St. Louis," and on "to Italy."

"But that will be too far, will it not?" said Mrs. Trescott.

"Oh no; to Italy! to Italy!" said Janet, with enthusiasm. Verney now
explained that Italy was but ten minutes' walk from the hotel, and Janet
was, of course, duly astonished. But not more astonished than the
Professor, who, having told her the same fact not a half-hour before,
could not comprehend how she should so soon have forgotten it.

"And if we _are_ but 'ten minutes' walk from Italy'--a phrase so often
repeated--what of it?" said Miss Graves to Margaret. "We are simply ten
minutes' walk from a most uncleanly land." Miss Graves always wore a
gray worsted shawl, and took no wine; in spite of the sunshine,
therefore, she preserved a frosty appearance.

After breakfast Miss Elaine introduced herself to Mrs. Trescott. She had
met some Americans the year before; they were charming; they were from
Brazil; perhaps we knew them? She had always felt ever since that all
Americans were her dear, dear friends. She had an invalid mother
up-stairs (sharing her good opinion of Americans) who would be "very
pleased" to make our acquaintance; and hearing Pont St. Louis mentioned,
she assured Janet that it was a "very jolly place--very jolly indeed."
It ended in our going to the "jolly place," accompanied by the two
artists and Miss Elaine herself, who smiled upon us all, upon the rocks,
the sky, and the sea, in the most amiable and continuous manner. This
time we were not all on foot; one of the loose-jointed little Mentone
phaetons, with a great deal of driver and whip and very little horse,
had been engaged for Mrs. Trescott and Margaret. This left Mrs. Clary
and myself together (Miss Graves having remained at home), and Inness,
Baker, the Professor, Verney, and the other artist, whose name was
Lloyd, all trying to walk with Janet, while Miss Elaine devoted herself
in turn to the unsuccessful ones, and never from first to last perceived
the real situation.

We went eastward. Presently we passed a small house bearing the
following naïve inscription in French on the side towards the road: "The
first villa built at Mentone, in 1855, to attract hither the strangers.
The sun, the sea, and the soft air combined are benefactions bestowed
upon us by the good God. Thanks be to Him, therefore, for His mercies in
thus favoring us."

"Mentone is said to have been 'discovered by the English' in 1857," said
Mrs. Clary. "Dr. Bennet, the London physician, may be called its real
discoverer, as Lord Brougham was the discoverer of Cannes. From a
sleepy, unknown little Riviera village it has grown into the winter
resort we now see, with fifty hotels and two hundred villas full of
strangers from all parts of the world."

The Professor was discoursing upon the climate. "It is very beneficial
to all whose lungs are delicate," he said. "Also" (checking off the
different classes on his fingers) "to the aged, to those who need
general renovating, to the rheumatic, and to those afflicted with gout."

"Where, then, do I come in?" said Janet, sweetly, as he finished the
left hand.

"Nowhere," answered the Professor, meaning to be gallant, but not quite
succeeding. Perceiving this, he added, slowly, and with solemnity, "But
the fair and healthy flower should be willing to shine upon the less
endowed for the pure beneficence of the act."

[Illustration: THE BONE CAVERNS]

Baker and Inness sat down on the sea-wall behind him to recover from
this. The two Englishmen were equally amused, although Miss Elaine,
who was walking with them, did not discover it. However, Miss Elaine
seldom discovered anything save herself. We now began to ascend, passing
between the high walls of villa gardens along a smooth, broad, white

"This is the Cornice," said Mrs. Clary; "it winds along this coast from
Marseilles to Genoa."

"From Nice to Genoa," said the Professor, turning to correct her. But by
turning he lost his place. Inness slipped into it, and not only that,
but into his information also. In the leisure hour or two before and
after "breakfast," Inness had carried out his threat of "studying up,"
and we soon became aware of it.

"The genius of Napoleon, Miss Trescott," he began, "caused this
wonderful road to spring from the bosom of the mighty rock."

"Before it there was no road, only a mule track," said the Professor
from behind.

"I beg your pardon," said Inness, suavely, "but there was a road, the
old Roman way, called Via Julia Augusta, traces of which are still to be
seen at more than one point in this neighborhood."

"Ah!" said the Professor, surprised by this unexpected antiquity, "you
are going back to the Roman period. I have omitted that."

"But I have not," replied Inness. "The Romans were a remarkable people,
and all their relics are penetrated with the profoundest interest for
me. I am aware, however, that other minds are more modern," he added,
carelessly, with an air of patronage, which so delighted Baker that he
fell behind to conceal it.

"The Cornichy, Miss Trescott, as we pronounce the Italian word (Corniche
in French), is almost our own word cornice," pursued Inness, "meaning a
shelf or ledge along the side of the mountain. It was begun by Napoleon,
and has been finished by the energy of successive governments since the
death of that wonderful man, who was all governments in one."

"You surprise me," said Janet, breaking into laughter.

"Not more than you do me," I said, joining her.

The Professor (who had rather neglected the Cornice in his Cyclopean
information) gazed at us inquiringly, surprised at our merriment.

"The best description of the Cornice, I think, is the one in Ruffini's
novel called _Doctor Antonio_" said Mrs. Clary. "The scene is laid at
Bordighera, you know, that little white town on the eastern point so
conspicuous from Mentone. Of course you all remember _Doctor Antonio_?"

Presently our road wound around a curve, and we came upon a wild gorge,
spanned by a bridge with a sentinel's box at each end; one side was
France and the other Italy. The bridge, the official boundary line
between the two countries, is a single arch thrown across the gorge,
which is singularly stern, great masses of bare gray rock rising
perpendicularly hundreds of feet into the air, with a little rill of
water trickling down on one side, trying to create a tiny line of
verdure. Below was an old aqueduct on arches, which the Professor
hastened to say was "Roman."

"The Romans must have been enormous drinkers of water," observed Baker,
as we looked down. "The first thing they made in every conquered country
was an aqueduct. What could have given the name to Roman punch?"

"Do you see that narrow track cut in the face of the rock?" said Mrs.
Clary, pointing out a line crossing one side of the gorge at a dizzy
height. "It is a little path beside a watercourse, and so narrow that in
some places there is not room for one's two feet. The wall of rock
rises, as you see, perpendicularly hundreds of feet on one side, and
falls away hundreds of feet perpendicularly on the other; there is
nothing to hold on by, and in addition the glancing motion of the little
stream, running rapidly downhill along the edge, makes the path still
more dizzy. Yet the peasants coming down from Ciotti--a village above
us--use it, as it shortens the distance to town. And there are those
among the strangers too who try it, generally, I must confess, of our
race. The French and Italians say, with a shrug, 'It is only the English
and Americans who enjoy such risks.'"

"It does not look so narrow," said Janet. Then, as we exclaimed, she
added, "I mean, not wide enough for one's two feet."

"Feet," remarked Inness, in a general way, as if addressing the gorge,
"are not all of the same size."

We happened to be standing in a row, with our backs against the southern
parapet of the bridge, looking up at the little path; the result was
that eighteen feet were plainly visible on the white dust of the bridge,
and, naturally enough, at Inness's speech eighteen eyes looked downward
and noted them. There were the Professor's boots, the laced shoes of the
younger men, the comfortable foot-gear of Mrs. Clary and myself, the
broad substantial soles of Miss Elaine, and a certain dainty little pair
of high-arched, high-heeled boots, which, small as they were, were yet
quite large enough for the pretty feet they contained. I thought Miss
Elaine would be vexed; but no, not at all. It never occurred to Miss
Elaine to doubt the perfection of any of her attributes. But now Mrs.
Trescott's phaeton, which had started later, reached the bridge, and the
gorge, path, and aqueduct had to be explained to her. Lloyd undertook

"I wonder how many girls have thrown themselves off that rock?" said
Janet, gazing at an isolated peak, shaped like a sugar-loaf, which
stood alone within the ravine.

"What a holocaust you imagine, Miss Trescott!" said Verney. "How could
they climb up there, to begin with?"

"I do not know. But they always do. I have never known a rock of that
kind which has succeeded in evading them," answered Janet. "They
generally call them 'Lovers' Leaps.'"

After a while we went on "to Italy," passing the square Italian
custom-house perched on its cliff, and following the road by the little
Garibaldi inn, and on towards the point of Mortola.

"This is the Italian frontier," said Verney. "In old times, during the
Prince's reign, no one could leave the domain without buying a passport;
any one, therefore, who wished to take an afternoon walk was obliged to
have one. But things are altered now in Menton."

"Are we to call the place Menton or Mentone?" asked Janet. "We might as
well come to some decision."

"Menton is correct," said the Professor; "it is now a French town."

"Oh no! let us keep to the dear old names, and say Men-to-ne," said Mrs.

"_I_ have even heard it pronounced to rhyme with bone," said Verney,
smiling. Inness and Baker now looked at each other, and fell behind, but
after a few minutes they came forward again, and, advancing to the
front, faced us, and delivered the following epic:


    "What shall we call thee? Shall we give our own
    Plain English vowels to thee, fair Mentone?"



    "Or shall we yield thee back thy patrimony,
    The lost Italian sweetness of Mentone?"


    "Or, with French accent, and the n's half gone,
    Try the Parisian syllables--Men-ton?"

We all applauded their impromptu. The Professor, seeing that poetry held
the field, walked apart musingly. I think he was trying to recall, but
without success, an appropriate Latin quotation.

The view from the point above Mortola is very beautiful. On the west,
Mentone with its three spires, the green of Cap Martin; and beyond, the
bold dark forehead of the Dog's Head rising above Monaco.

"Do you see that blue line of coast?" said Verney. "That is the island
where lived the Man with the Iron Mask."

"Bazaine was confined there also," said the Professor.

But none of us cared for Bazaine. We began to talk about the Mask, and
then diverged to Kaspar Hauser, finally ending with Eleazer Williams, of
"Have we a Bourbon among us?" who had to be explained to the Englishmen.
It was some time before we came back to the view; but all the while
there it was before us, and we were unconsciously enjoying it. On the
east was, first, the little village of Mortola at our feet; then
fortified Ventimiglia; and beyond, Bordighera, gleaming whitely on its
low point out in the blue sea.

"Blanche Bordighera," said Mrs. Clary; "it is to me like
paradise--always silvery and fair. No matter where you go, there it is;
whether you look from Cap Martin or St. Agnese, from Ciotti or
Roccabruna, you can always see Bordighera shining in the sunlight. Even
when there is a mist, so that Mentone itself is veiled and Ventimiglia
lost, Bordighera can be seen gleaming whitely through. And finally you
end by not wanting to go there; you dread spoiling the vision by a less
fair reality, and you go away, leaving it unvisited, but carrying with
you the remembrance of its shining and its feathery palms."

"Is it palmy?" asked Janet.

"There are probably now more palms at Bordighera than in the Holy Land
itself," said Verney, who had wound himself into a place beside her. I
say "wound," because Verney was so long and lithe that he could slip
gracefully into places which other men could not obtain. Lloyd was not
with us. He had not left his post of duty beside the phaeton, which was
coming slowly up the hill behind us; but I noticed that he had selected
Margaret's side of it.

"Palms would grow at Mentone, or at any other sheltered spot on this
coast," said the Professor, at last abandoning the obstinate quotation,
and coming back to the present. "But the cultivation is not remunerative
save at Bordighera, where they own the monopoly of supplying the palm
branches used on Palm-Sunday at Rome."

"Excuse me," said Inness; "but I think you did not mention the origin of
that monopoly?"

"A monkish legend," said the Professor, contemptuously.

"In those days everything was monkish," replied Inness; "architecture,
knowledge, and religion. If we had lived then, no doubt we should all
have been monks."

"Ah, yes!" said Miss Elaine, fervently. "Do tell us the legend, Mr.
Inness. I adore legends, especially if ecclesiastical."

"Well," said Inness, "a good while ago--in 1586--the Pope decided to
raise and place upon a pedestal an Egyptian obelisk, which, transported
to Rome by Caligula, had been left lying neglected upon the ground. An
apparatus was constructed to lift the huge block, and with the aid of
one hundred and fifty horses and nine hundred men it was raised, poised,
and then let down slowly towards its position, amid the breathless
silence of a multitude, when suddenly it was seen that the ropes on one
side failed to bring it into place. All, including the engineer in
charge, stood stupefied with alarm, when a voice from the crowd called
out, 'Wet the ropes!' It was done; the ropes shortened; the obelisk
reached its place in safety. The Pope sent for the man whose timely
advice had saved the lives of many, and asked him what reward would
please him most. He was a simple countryman, and with much timidity he
answered that he lived at Bordighera, and that if the palms of
Bordighera could be used in Rome on Holy Palm-Sunday he should die
happy. His wish was granted," concluded Inness, "and--he died."

"I hope not immediately," I said, laughing.

On our way back, Verney showed us a path leading up the cliff. "Let me
give you a glimpse of a lovely garden," he said. We looked up, and there
it was on the cliff above us, like the hanging gardens of Babylon, green
terraces clothing the bare gray rock with beautiful verdure. Margaret
left the phaeton and went up the winding path with us, Mrs. Trescott and
Mrs. Clary remaining below. The gate of the garden, which bore the
inscription "Salvete Amici," opened upon a long columned walk; from
pillar to pillar over our heads ran climbing vines, and on each side
were ranks of rare and curious plants, the lovely wild flowers of the
country having their place also among the costlier blossoms. "Before you
go farther turn and look at the tower," said Verney. "It has been made
habitable within, but otherwise it is unchanged. It was built either as
a lookout in which to keep watch for the Saracens, or else by the
Saracens themselves when they held the coast."

"By the Sarrasins themselves, of course--always with two r's," said
Janet. "Think of it--a Sarrasin tower! I would rather own it than
anything else in the whole world."

Whereupon Verney, Inness, the Professor, Lloyd, and Baker all wished to
know what she would do with it.

"Do with it?" repeated Janet. "Live in it, of course. I have always had
the greatest desire to live in a tower; even light-houses tempt me."

"I shall tell Dr. Bennet," said Verney, laughing. "This is his garden,
you know."

At the end of the columned walk we went around a curve by a smaller
tower, and descended to a lower path bordered with miniature groves of
hyacinth, whose dense sweetness, mingled with that of heliotrope, filled
the air. Here Margaret seated herself to enjoy the fragrance and
sunshine, while we went onward, coming to a magnificent array of
primulas, rank upon rank, in every shade of delicate and gorgeous
coloring, a pomp of tints against a background of ferns. Below was a
little vine-covered terrace with thick, soft, English grass for its
velvet flooring; here was another paradisiacal little seat, like the one
where we had left Margaret, overlooking the blue sea. On terraces above
were camellias, roses, and numberless other blossoms, mingled with
tropical plants and curious growths of cacti; behind was a lemon grove
rising a little higher; then the background of gray rocks from which all
this beauty had been won inch by inch; then the great peaks of the
mountain amphitheatre against the sky--in all, beauty enough for a
thousand gardens here concentrated in one enchanting spot.

[Illustration: THE WASHER-WOMEN]

"That picturesque village on the height is Grimaldi," said Verney.

"The original home of the clowns, I suppose," said Baker.

"English and Americans always say that; they can never think of anything
but the great circus Hamlet," replied Verney. "In reality, however,
Grimaldi is one of the oldest of the noble names on this coast--the
family name of the Princes of Monaco."

"Who are worse than clowns," said the Professor, sternly. "The Grimaldi
who was a clown at least honestly earned his bread, but the Grimaldis of
the present day live by the worst dishonesty. Monaco, formerly called
the Port of Hercules, may now well be called the Port of Hell."

"Well," said Inness, "if Monaco, on one side of us, represents
l'Inferno, Bordighera, on the other, represents Paradiso, and so we are

"It depends upon which way you go, young man," said the Professor, still

After a while we came back to the bench among the hyacinths where we had
left Margaret, and found Lloyd with her, looking at the sea; the lovely
garden overhangs the sea, whose beautiful near blue closes every
blossoming vista. It had been decided that we were to go homeward by way
of the Bone Caverns, and as Mrs. Trescott was fond of bones, and wished
to see their abode, I offered to remain and drive home with Margaret.

"Let me accompany Miss Severin," said Lloyd. "I have seen the caverns,
and do not care to see them again."

I looked at Margaret, thinking she would object; she seldom cared for
the society of strangers. But in some way Mr. Lloyd no longer seemed a
stranger; he had crossed the numerous little barriers which she kept
erected between herself and the outside world, crossed them probably
without even seeing them. But none the less were they crossed.

So we left them in the sunny garden to return homeward at their leisure,
and, descending to the road, went eastward a short distance, and turned
down a narrow path leading to the beach. It brought us under the
enormous mass of the Red Rocks, rising perpendicularly three hundred
feet from the water. Inness, who was in advance, had paused on a little
bridge of one arch over a hollow, and was holding it, as it were, when
we came up. "Behold a fragment of the ancient Roman way, Via Julia
Augusta," he began, introducing the bridge with a wave of his cane.
"When we think of this road in the past, what visions rise in the
mind--visions like--like mists on the mountain-tops floating away,
which--which merge in each other at dawning of day! In comparison with
the ancient Romans, the builders of this bridge, Hercules, the Lascaris,
even the Sarrasins (always with two r's), are _nowhere_. Roman feet
touched this very archway upon which my own unworthy shoes now stand."

We looked at his shoes with respect, the Professor (who had gone onward
to the Bone Caverns) not being there to contradict.

"The Romans," continued Inness, "never stayed long. They dropped here a
tomb, there an aqueduct, and then moved on. They were the first great
pedestrians. We cannot _see_ them, but we can imagine them. As Pope well

    "'While fancy brings the vanished piles to view,
    And builds imaginary Rome anew.'"

"Ah, yes," said Mrs. Trescott, "the Romans, the Romans, how dreamy they
were! They always remind me of those lines:

    "'Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
        And let the young lambs bound
        As to the tabor's sound,
        The primal sympathy,
    Which, having been, must ever be!'"

This finished the bridge. As we had no idea what she meant, even Inness
deserted it, and we all went onward to the Bone Caverns. The caverns
were dark hollows in the cliff some distance above the road. From the
entrance of one of them issued a cloud of dust; the Professor was in
there digging.

"Let us ascend at once," said Mrs. Trescott, enthusiastically. "I wish
to stand in the very abode of the primitive man."

But it was something of a task to get her up; there was always a great
deal of loose drapery about Mrs. Trescott, which had a way of catching
on everything far and near. With her veil, her plumes, her lace shawl,
her long watch-chain, her dangling fan, her belt bag and scent bottle,
her parasol and basket, it was difficult to get her safely through any
narrow or bushy place. But to-day Verney gallantly undertook the feat:
he knew the advantages of propitiating the higher powers.

Men were quarrying the face of the Red Rocks at a dizzy height, hanging
suspended in mid-air by ropes in order to direct the blasting; below,
the patient horses were waiting to convey the great blocks of stone to
the town, and destroy, by their daily procession, the last traces of the
Julia Augusta.

"I hope these rocks are porphyry," said Janet, gazing upward; "it is
such a lovely name."

"Yes, they are," said the unblushing Inness. "The Troglodytes, whose
homes are beneath, were fond of porphyry. They were very æsthetic, you

We now reached the entrance of one of the caverns and looked in.

"The Troglodytes," continued Inness, "were the original, _really_
original, proprietors of Mentone. They lived here, clad in bear-skins,
and their voices are said to have been not sweet. See Pliny and Strabo.
The bones of their dinners left here, and a few of their own (untimely
deaths from fighting with each other for more), have now become the most
precious treasures of the scientific world, equalling in richness the
never-to-be-sufficiently-prized-and-investigated kitchen refuse of the
Swiss lakes."

But the Professor, overhearing something of this frivolity at the sacred
door, emerged from the hole in which he had been digging, and, covered
with dust, but rich in the possession of a ball and socket joint of some
primeval animal, came to the entrance, and forcibly, if not by force,
addressed us:

"At a recent period it has been discovered that these five caverns in
this limestone rock--"

"Alas, my porphyry!" murmured Janet.

"--contain bones of animals mixed with flint instruments imbedded in
sand. The animals were the food and the flint instruments the weapons of
a race of men who must have existed far back in prehistoric times. This
was a rich discovery; but a richer was to come. In 1872 a human
skeleton, all but perfect, a skeleton of a tall man, was discovered in
the fourth cavern, surrounded by bones which prove its great
antiquity--which prove, in fact, almost beyond a doubt, that it belonged
to--the--_Paleolithic epoch_!" And the Professor paused, really overcome
by the tremendous power of his own words.

[Illustration: OIL MILL]

But I am afraid we all gazed stupidly enough, first at him, then into
the cave, then at him again, with only the vaguest idea of
"Paleolithic's" importance. I must except Verney; he knew more. But
he had gone inside, and was now digging in the hole in his turn to find
flints for Janet.

Mrs. Trescott, who was our bone-master (she had studied anatomy, and
highly admired "form"), asked if the skeleton had been "painted in

Miss Elaine hoped that they buried it again "reverently," and "in
consecrated ground."

The Professor gazed at them in turn; he literally could not find a word
for reply.

Then I, coming to the rescue, said: "I am very dull, I know, but pity my
dulness, and tell me why the skeleton was so important, and how they
knew it was so old."

The poor man, overcome by such crass ignorance, gazed at his ball and
socket joint and at our group in silence. Then, in a spiritless voice,
he said, "The bones surrounding the skeleton were those of animals now
extinct--animals that existed at a period heretofore supposed to have
been before that of man; but by their presence here they prove a
contemporary, and we therefore know that he existed at a much earlier
age of the world's history than we had imagined."

Verney now gave Janet the treasures he had found--some pieces of flint
about an inch long, rudely pointed at one end. "These," he said, "are
the knives of the primitive man."

"They are very disappointing," said Janet, surveying them as they lay in
the palm of her slender gray glove, buttoned half-way to the elbow.

"Did you expect carved handles and steel blades?" I said, smiling.

"And here are some nummulites," pursued Verney, taking a quantity of the
round coin-like shells from his pocket. "You might have a necklace made,
with the nummulites above and the flints below as pendants."

"And label it prehistoric; it would be quite as attractive as
preraphaelite," said Inness. "I don't know what _you_ think," he
continued, turning to Verney, "but to me there is nothing so ugly as the
way some of the girls--generally the tall ones--are getting themselves
up nowadays in what they call the preraphaelite style--a general effect
of awkward lankness as to shape and gown, a classic fillet, hair to the
eyebrows, and a gait not unlike that which would be produced by having
the arms tied together behind at the elbows. If your Botticelli is
responsible for this, his canvases should be demolished."

Verney laughed; he was at heart, I think, a strong preraphaelite both of
the present and the past; but how could he avow it when a reality so
charming and at the same time so unlike that type stood beside him?
Janet's costumes were not at all preraphaelite; they were

We left the Red Rocks, and went slowly onward along the sea-shore
towards home. Miss Elaine, having first taken me aside to ask if I
thought it "quite proper," had challenged Inness to a rapid walk, and
soon carried him away from us and out of sight. On our way we passed the
St. Louis brook, where the laundresses were at work in two rows along
the stream, each kneeling at the edge in a broad open basket like a
boat, and bending over the low pool, alternately soaping and beating her
clothes with a flat wooden mallet. It was a picturesque sight--the long
rows of figures in baskets, the heads decked with bright-colored
handkerchiefs. But to a housewifely mind like my own the idea which most
forcibly presented itself was the small amount of water. Of a celebrated
trout fisherman it was once said that all he required was a little damp
spot, and forthwith he caught a trout; and the Mentone laundresses seem
to consider that only a little damp spot is needed for their daily

But in truth they cannot help themselves; the crying fault of Mentone is
the want of water. A spring is more precious than the land itself, and
is divided between different proprietors for stated periods of each day.
The poor little rills do a dozen tasks before they reach the laundresses
and the beach. The beautiful terrace vegetation which clothes the sides
of the mountains is supported by an elaborate and costly system of tanks
and watercourses which would dishearten an American proprietor at the
outset. The Mentone laundresses work for wages which a New World
laundress would scorn; but there is one marked difference between them
and between all the French and Italian working-people and those of
America, and that is that among these foreigners there seems to be not
one too poor to have his daily bottle of wine. We saw the necks of these
bottles peeping from the rough dinner-baskets of the laundresses, and
afterwards from those also of the quarry-men, vine-dressers,
olive-pickers, and lemon-gatherers. It was an inexpensive "wine of the
country"; still, it was wine.

The sun was now sinking into the water, and exquisite hues were stealing
over the soft sea. The picturesque Mediterranean boats with lateen-sails
were coming towards home, and one whose little sail was crimson made a
lovely picture on the water. At the sea-wall we met Miss Graves gloomily
taking a walk, and presently the phaeton with Margaret and Lloyd stopped
near us as we stood looking at the hues. Two ships in the distance
sailed first on blue water, then on rose, on lilac, on purple, violet,
and gold. Over the sea fell a pink flush, met on the horizon by salmon
in a broad band, then next above it amber, then violet edged with rose,
and higher still a zone of clear pale green bordered with gold. At the
same moment the Red Rocks were flooded with rose light which extended in
a lovely flush up the high gray peaks behind far in the sky, lingering
there when all the lower splendor was gone, and the sea and shore veiled
in dusky twilight gray.


"It is almost as beautiful at sunrise," said Mrs. Clary; "and then, too,
you can see the Fairy Island."

"What is that?" I asked.

"Never mind what it is in reality," answered Mrs. Clary. "I consider it
enchanted--the Fortunate Land, whose shores and mountain-peaks can be
seen only between dawn and sunrise, when they loom up distinctly, soon
fading away, however, mysteriously into the increasing daylight, and
becoming entirely invisible when the sun appears."

"I saw it this morning," said Miss Graves, soberly. "It is only

"Brigands and vendetta," said Inness.

"Napoleon," said all the rest of us.

"My idea of it is much the best," said Mrs. Clary; "it is Fairy-land,
the lost Isles of the Blest."

After that each morning at breakfast the question always was, who had
seen Corsica. And a vast amount of ingenious evasion was displayed in
the answers. However, I did see it once. It rose from the water on the
southeastern horizon, its line of purple mountain-peaks and low shore so
distinctly visible that it seemed as if one could take the little boat
with the crimson sail and be over there in an hour, although it was
ninety miles away; but while I gazed it faded slowly, melted, as it
were, into the gold of the awakening day.

The weeks passed, and we rode, drove, walked, and climbed hither and
thither, looking at the carouba-trees, the stiff pyramidal cypresses,
the euphorbias in woody bushes five feet high, the great planes, the
grotesque naked figs, the aloes and oleanders growing wild, and the
fantastic shapes of the cacti. We searched for ferns, finding the rusty
ceterach, the little trichomanes, and _Adiantum nigrum_, but especially
the exquisite maiden-hair of the delicate variety called _Capillus
veneris_, which fringed every watercourse and bank and rock where there
is the least moisture with its lovely green fretwork. There is a phrase
current in Mentone and applied to this fern, as well as to the violets
which grow wild in rich profusion, starring the ground with their blue;
unthinking people say of them that they are "so common they become
weeds." This phrase should be suppressed by a society for the
cultivation of good taste and the prevention of cruelty to plants. Ivy
was everywhere, growing wild, and heather in bloom.

Miss Graves was brought almost to tears one day by finding her old
friend the wild climbing smilax of Florida on these Mediterranean rocks,
and only recovered her self-possession because Lloyd would call it
"sarsaparilla," and she felt herself called upon to do battle. But the
profusion of the violets, the pomp of the red anemones, the perfume of
the white narcissus, the hyacinths and sweet alyssum, all growing wild,
who shall describe them? There were also tulips, orchids, English
primroses, and daisies. Even when nothing else could grow there was
always the demure rosemary. Of course, too, we made close acquaintance
with the olive and lemon, the characteristic trees of Mentone, whose
foliage forms its verdure, and whose fruit forms its commerce. The
orange groves were insignificant and the oranges sour compared with
those of Florida; but the olive and lemon groves were new to us, and in
themselves beautiful and luxuriant. Our hotel stood on the edge of an
old olive grove climbing the mountain-side slowly on broad terraces
rising endlessly as one looked up. After some weeks' experience we found
that we represented collectively various shades of opinion concerning
olive groves in general, which may be given as follows:

Mrs. Clary: "These old trees are to me so sacred! When I walk under
their great branches I always think of the dove bringing the leaf to the
ark, of the olive boughs of the entry into Jerusalem, and of the Mount
of Olives."


The Professor: "Olives are interesting because their manner of growth
allows them to attain an almost indefinite age. The trunk decays and
splits, but the bark, which still retains its vigor, grows around the
dissevered portions, making, as it were, new trunks of them, although
curved and distorted, so that three or four trees seem to be growing
from the same root. It is this which gives the tree its characteristic
knotted and gnarled appearance. This species of olive attains a very
fine development in the neighborhood of Mentone; there are said to be
trees still alive at Cap Martin which were coeval with the Roman

Verney: "The light in an old olive grove is beautiful and peculiar; it
is like nothing but itself. It is quite impossible to give on canvas the
gray shade of the long aisles without making them dim, and they are not
in the least dim. I have noticed, too, that the sunshine never filters
through sufficiently to touch the ground in a glancing beam, or even a
single point of yellow light; and yet the leaves are small, and the
foliage does not appear thick."

Baker: "Olives and olive oil, the groundwork of every good dinner! I
wonder how much a grove would cost?"

Mrs. Trescott: "How they murmur to us--like doves! My one regret now is
that I did not name my child Olive. She would then have been so

Inness: "I should think more of the groves if I did not know that they
were fertilized with woollen rags, old boots, and bones."

Janet: "The inside tint of the leaves would be lovely for a summer
costume. I have never had just that shade."

Miss Graves: "Live-oak groves draped in long moss are much more

Miss Elaine: "It is so jolly, you know, to sit under the trees with
one's embroidery, and have some one read aloud--something sweet, like
Adelaide Procter."

Margaret: "Sitting here is like being in a great cathedral in Lent."

Lloyd: "Shall we go quietly on, Miss Severin?"

And Lloyd, I think, had the best of it. I mean that he knew how to
derive the most pleasure from the groves. This English use of "quietly,"
by-the-way, always amused Margaret and myself greatly. Lloyd and Verney
were constantly suggesting that we should go here or there "quietly," as
though otherwise we should be likely to go with banners, trumpets, and
drums. The longer one remains in Mentone, the stronger grows attachment
to the olive groves. But they do not seem fit places for the young,
whose gay voices resound through their gray aisles; neither are they for
the old, who need the cheer and warmth of the sun. But they are for the
middle-aged, those who are beyond the joys and have not yet reached the
peace of life, the poor, unremembered, hard-worked middle-aged. The
olives of Mentone are small, and used only for making oil. We saw them
gathered: men were beating the boughs with long poles, while old women
and children collected the dark purple berries and placed them in sacks,
which the patient donkeys bore to the mill. The oil mills are venerable
and picturesque little buildings of stone, placed in the ravines where
there is a stream of water. We visited one on the side hill; its only
light came from the open door, and its interior made a picture which
Gerard Douw might well have painted. The great oil jars, the old hearth
and oven, the earthen jugs, hanging lamps with floating wicks, and the
figures of the men moving about, made a picturesque scene. The fruit was
first crushed by stone rollers, the wheel being turned by water-power;
the pulp, saturated with warm water, was then placed in flat, round rope
baskets, which were piled one upon the other, and the whole subjected to
strong pressure, which caused the clear yellow oil to exude through the
meshes of the baskets, and flow down into the little reservoir below.

"Our manners would become charmingly suave if we lived here long," said
Inness. "It would be impossible to resist the influence of so much oil."

The lemon terraces were as unlike the olive groves as a gay love song is
unlike a Gregorian chant. The trees rose brightly and youthfully from
the grassy hill-side steps, each leaf shining as though it was
varnished, and the yellow globes of fruit gleaming like so much
imprisoned sunshine. Here was no shade, no weird grayness, but
everything was either vivid gold or vivid green. Janet said this.

"_I_ am the latter, I think," said Baker, "to be caught here again on
these terraces. I don't know what your experience has been, but for my
part I detest them; I have been lost here again and again. You get into
them and you think it all very easy, and you keep going on and on. You
climb hopefully from one to the next by those narrow sidling little
stone steps, only to find it the exact counterpart of the one you have
left, with still another beyond. And you keep on plunging up and up
until you are worn out. At last you meet a man, and you ask him
something or other beginning with 'Purtorn'--"

"What in the world do you mean?" said Janet, breaking into laughter.

"I am sure I don't know; but that is what you all say."

"Perhaps you mean 'Peut-on,'" suggested Margaret.

"Well, whatever I mean, the man always answers 'Oui,' and so I am no
better off than I was before, but keep plunging on," said Baker,

But the Professor now opened a more instructive subject. "Lemons are the
most important product of Mentone," he began. "As they can be kept
better than those of Naples and Sicily, they command a large price. The
tree flowers all the year through, and the fruit is gathered at four
different periods. The annual production of lemons at Mentone is about
thirty millions."

"Thirty millions of lemons!" I said, appalled. "What an acid idea!"

"The idea may be acid, but the air is not," said Margaret. "It is
singularly delicious, almost intoxicating."

And in truth there was a subtle fragrance which had an influence upon
me, although no doubt it had much more upon Margaret, who was peculiarly
sensitive to perfumes.

"Have you heard the legend of the Mentone lemons?" said Verney.

"No; what is it? We should be _very_ pleased to hear it," said Miss
Elaine, throwing herself down upon the grass in what she considered a
rural way. She was bestowing her smiles upon Verney that day; she had
mentioned to me on the way up the hill that she did not approve of
giving too much of one's attention "to one especial gentleman
exclusively"--it was so "conspicuous." I was smiling inwardly at this,
since the only "conspicuous" person among us, as far as attention to
"the gentlemen" was concerned, was Miss Elaine herself, when I caught
her glance directed towards Margaret and Lloyd. This set me to thinking.
Could she be referring to them? They had been much together, without
doubt, for Margaret liked him, and he was very kind to her. My poor
Margaret, she was very precious, to me; but to others she was only a
pale, careworn woman, silent, quiet, and no longer young. With the
remembrance of Miss Elaine's words in my mind, I now looked around for
Margaret as we sat down on the grass to hear Verney's legend; but she
had strolled off down the long green and gold aisle with Lloyd.

"Miss Severin is so well informed that she does not care for our simple
little amusements," said Miss Elaine, in her artless way.


"Once upon a time, as we all know," began Verney, "Adam and Eve were
banished from the garden of Paradise. Poor Eve, sobbing, put up her hand
just before passing through the gate and plucked a lemon from the last
tree beside the angel. The two then wandered through the world together,
wandered far and wide, and at last, following the shores of the
Mediterranean, they came to Mentone. Here the sea was so blue, the
sunshine so bright, and the sky so cloudless, that Eve planted her
treasured fruit. 'Go, little seed,' she said; 'grow and prosper. Make
another Eden of this enchanting spot, so that those who come after may
know at least something of the tastes and the perfumes of Paradise.'"

The Professor had not remained to hear the legend; he had gone up the
mountain, and we now heard him shouting; that is, he was trying to
shout, although he produced only a sort of long, thin hoot.

"What can that be?" I said, startled.

"It is the Professor," answered Mrs. Trescott. "It is his way of
calling. He has his own methods of doing everything."

It turned out that he had found a path down which the lemon girls were
coming from the terraces above. We went up to this point to see them
pass. They were all strong and ruddy, and walked with wonderful
erectness, balancing the immense weight of fruit on their heads without
apparent effort; they were barefooted, and moved with a solid, broad
step down the steep, stony road. The load of fruit for each one was one
hundred and twenty pounds; they worked all day in this manner, and
earned about thirty cents each! But they looked robust and cheerful, and
some of them smiled at us under their great baskets as they passed.

One afternoon not long after this we went to the Capuchin monastery of
the Annunziata. Some of us were on donkeys and some on foot, forming
one of those processions so often seen winding through the streets of
the little Mediterranean town. We passed the shops filled with the
Mentone swallow, singing his "Je reviendrai" upon articles in wood, in
glass, mosaic, silver, straw, canvas, china, and even letter-paper, with
continuous perseverance; we passed the venders of hot chestnuts, which
we not infrequently bought and ate ourselves. Then we came to the
perfume distilleries, where thousands of violets yield their sweetness

"They cultivate them for the purpose, you know," said Verney. "It's a
poetical sort of agriculture, isn't it? Imagination can hardly go
further, I think, than the idea of a violet farm."

We passed small chapels with their ever-burning lamps; the new villas
described by the French newspapers as "ravishing constructions"; and
then, turning from the road, we ascended a narrow path which wound
upward, its progress marked here and there by stone shrines, some
freshly repainted, others empty and ruined, pointing the way to the holy
church of the Annunziata.

"The only way to appreciate Mentone is to take these excursions up the
valleys and mountains," said Mrs. Clary. "Those who confine themselves
to sitting in the gardens of the hotels or strolling along the Promenade
du Midi have no more idea of its real beauty than a man born blind has
of a painting. Descriptions are nothing; one must _see_. I think the
mountain excursions may be called the shibboleth of Mentone; if you do
not know them, you are no true Israelite."

Verney had a graceful way of gathering delicate little sprays and
blossoms here and there and silently giving them to Janet. The Professor
had noticed this, and to-day emulated him by gathering a bunch of
mallow with great care--a bunch nearly a yard in circumference--which
he presented to Janet with much ceremony.

"Oh, thanks; I am _so_ fond of flowers!" responded that young person.
"Is it asphodel? I long to see asphodel."

Now asphodel was said to grow in that neighborhood, and Janet knew it;
by expressing a wish to see the classic blossom she sent the poor
Professor on a long search for it, climbing up and down and over the
rocks, until I, looking on from my safe donkey's back, felt tired for
him. And it was not long before our donkeys' steady pace left him far

"With its pale, dusty leaves and weakly lavender flowers, it is, I
think, about as depressing a flower as I have seen," said Inness,
looking at the mammoth bouquet.

"I might fasten it to the saddle, and relieve your hands, Miss
Trescott," suggested Verney. So the delicate gray gloves relinquished
the pound of mallow, which was tied to the saddle, and there hung
ignominiously all the remainder of the day.

The church and convent of L'Annunziata crown an isolated vine-clad hill
between two of the lovely valleys behind Mentone. The church was at the
end of a little plaza, surrounded by a stone-wall; in front there was an
opening towards the south, where stood an iron cross twenty feet high,
visible, owing to its situation, for many a mile. The stone monastery
was on one side; and the whole looked like a little fortification on the
point of the hill. We went into the church, and looked at the primitive
ex-votos on the wall, principally the offerings of Mediterranean sailors
in remembrance of escape from shipwreck--fragments of rope and chain,
pictures of storms at sea, and little wooden models of ships. In
addition to these marine souvenirs, there were also some tokens of
events on dry land, generally pictures of run-aways, where such
remarkable angels were represented sitting unexpectedly but calmly on
the tops of trees by the road-side that it was no wonder the horses ran.
But the lovely view of sea and shore at the foot of the great cross in
the sunshine was better than the dark, musty little church, and we soon
went out and seated ourselves on the edge of the wall to look at it.
While we were there one of the Capuchins, clad in his long brown gown,
came out, crossed the plaza, gazed at us slowly, and then with equal
slowness stooped and kissed the base of the cross, and returned, giving
us another long gaze as he passed.


"Was that piety or curiosity?" I said.

"I think it was Miss Trescott," said Baker.

Now as Miss Elaine was present, this was a little cruel; but I learned
afterwards that Baker had been rendered violent that day by hearing that
his American politeness regarding Miss Elaine's self-bestowed society
had been construed by that young lady into a hidden attachment to
herself--an attachment which she "deeply regretted," but could not
"prevent." She had confided this to several persons, who kept the secret
in that strict way in which such secrets are usually kept. Indeed, with
all the strictness, it was quite remarkable that Baker heard it. But not
remarkable that he writhed under it. However, his remarks and manners
made no difference to Miss Elaine; she attributed them to despair.

While we were sitting on the wall the Professor came toiling up the
hill; but he had not found the asphodel. However, when Janet had given
him a few of her pretty phrases he revived, and told us that the plaza
was the site of an ancient village called Podium-Pinum, and that the
Lascaris once had a château there.

"The same Lascaris who lived in the old castle at Mentone?" said Janet.

"The same."

"These old monks have plenty of wine, I suppose," said Inness, looking
at the vine terraces which covered the sunny hill-side.

"Very good wine was formerly made around Mentone," said the Professor;
"but the vines were destroyed by a disease, and the peasants thought it
the act of Providence, and for some time gave up the culture. But lately
they have replanted them, and wine is now again produced which, I am
told, is quite palatable."

"That is but a cold phrase to apply to the _bon petit vin blanc_ of
Sant' Agnese, for instance," said Verney, smiling.

Soon we started homeward. While we were winding down the narrow path, we
met a Capuchin coming up, with his bag on his back; he was an old man
with bent shoulders and a meek, dull face, to whom the task of patient
daily begging would not be more of a burden than any other labor. But
when we reached the narrow main street, and found a momentary block,
another Capuchin happened to stand near us who gave me a very different
impression. Among the carriages was a phaeton, with silken canopy, fine
horses, and a driver in livery; upon the cushioned seat lounged a young
man, one of Fortune's favorites and Nature's curled darlings, a little
stout from excess of comfort, perhaps, but noticeably handsome and
noticeably haughty--probably a Russian nobleman. The monk who stood near
us with his bag of broken bread and meat over his back was of the same
age, and equally handsome, as far as the coloring and outline bestowed
by nature could go. His dark eyes were fixed immovably upon the occupant
of the phaeton, and I wondered if he was noting the difference; it
seemed as if he must be noting it. It was a striking tableau of life's
utmost riches and utmost poverty.

That evening there was music in the garden; a band of Italian singers
chanted one or two songs to the saints, and then ended with a gay
Tarantella, which set all the house-maids dancing in the moonlight. We
listened to the music, and looked off over the still sea.

"Isn't it beautiful?" said Mrs. Clary. "I think loving Mentone is like
loving your lady-love. To you she is all beautiful, and you describe her
as such. But perhaps when others see her they say: 'She is by no means
all beautiful; she has this or that fault. What do you mean?' Then you
answer: 'I love her; therefore to me she is all beautiful. As for her
faults, they may be there, but I do not see them: I am blind.'"

[Illustration: CAPUCHIN MONKS]

That same evening Margaret gave me the following verses which she had


"_And there was given unto them a short time before they went forward._"

              Upon this sunny shore
    A little space for rest. The care and sorrow,
      Sad memory's haunting pain that would not cease,
    Are left behind. It is not yet to-morrow.
      To-day there falls the dear surprise of peace;
    The sky and sea, their broad wings round us sweeping,
    Close out the world, and hold us in their keeping.
    A little space for rest. Ah! though soon o'er,
    How precious is it on the sunny shore!

              Upon this sunny shore
    A little space for love, while those, our dearest,
      Yet linger with us ere they take their flight
    To that far world which now doth seem the nearest,
      So deep and pure this sky's down-bending light
    Slow, one by one, the golden hours are given
    A respite ere the earthly ties are riven.
    When left alone, how, 'mid our tears, we store
    Each breath of their last days upon this shore!

              Upon this sunny shore
    A little space to wait: the life-bowl broken,
      The silver cord unloosed, the mortal name
    We bore upon this earth by God's voice spoken,
      While at the sound all earthly praise or blame,
    Our joys and griefs, alike with gentle sweetness
    Fade in the dawn of the next world's completeness.
    The hour is thine, dear Lord; we ask no more,
    But wait thy summons on the sunny shore.


    "Thy skies are blue, thy crags as wild,
    Thine olive ripe, as when Minerva smiled."


"So having rung that bell once too often, they were all carried off,"
concluded Inness, as we came up.

"Who?" I asked.

"Look around you, and divine."

We were on Capo San Martino. This, being interpreted, is only Cape
Martin; but as we had agreed to use the "dear old names," we could not
leave out that of the poor cape only because it happened to have six
syllables. We looked around. Before us were ruins--walls built of that
unintelligible broken stone mixed at random with mortar, which confounds
time, and may be, as a construction, five or five hundred years old.

"They--whoever they were--lived here?" I said.


"And it was from here that they were carried off?"

"It was."

"Were they those interesting Greek Lascaris?" said Mrs. Trescott.


"The Troglodytes?" suggested Mrs. Clary.


"The poor old ancient gods and goddesses of the coast?" said Margaret.


"But who carried them off?" I said. "That is the point. It makes all the
difference in the world."

"I know it does," replied Inness; "especially in the case of an
elopement. In this case it happened to be Miss Trescott's friends
(always with two r's), the Sarrasins. The story is but a Mediterranean
version of the boy and the wolf. These ruins are the remains of an
ancient convent built in--in the remote Past. The good nuns, after
taking possession (perhaps they were inland nuns, and did not know what
they were coming to when they came to a shore), began to be in great
fear of the sea and Sarrasin sails. They therefore besought the men of
Mentone and Roccabruna to fly to their aid if at any time they heard the
bell of the chapel ringing rapidly. The men promised, and held
themselves in readiness to fly. One night they heard the bell. Then
westward ran the men of Mentone, and down the hill came those of
Roccabruna, and together they flew out on Capo San Martino to this
convent--only to find no Sarrasins at all, but only the nuns in a row
upon their knees entreating pardon: they had rung the bell as a test.
Not long afterwards the bell rang again, but no one went. This time it
really was the Sarrasins, and the nuns were all carried off."

"Very dramatic. The slight discrepancy that this happened to be a
monastery for monks makes no difference: who cares for details!" said
Verney, who, under the pretence of sketching the ruins, was making his
eighth portrait of Janet. He said of these little pencil portraits that
he "threw them in." Janet was therefore thrown into the Red Rocks, the
"old town," the Bone Caverns, the Pont St. Louis, Dr. Bennet's garden,
the cemetery, Capo San Martino, and before we finished into Roccabruna,
Castellare, Monaco, Dolce Acqua, Sant' Agnese, and the old Roman Trophy
at Turbia.

Leaving the ruins, we went down to the point, where the cape juts out
sharply into the sea, forming the western boundary of the Mentone bay.
Opposite, on the eastern point, lay blanche Bordighera, fair and silvery
as ever in the sunshine. We found the Professor on the point examining
the rocks.

"This is a formation similar to that which we may see in process of
construction at the present moment off the coast of Florida," he

"Not _coquina_?" cried Miss Graves, instantly going down and selecting a
large fragment.

"It is conglomerate," replied the Professor, disappearing around the
cliff corner, walking on little knobs of rock, and almost into the
Mediterranean in his eagerness.

"That word conglomerate is one of the most useful terms I know," said
Inness. "It covers everything: like Renaissance."

"The rock is also called pudding-stone," said Verney.

"Away with pudding-stone! we will have none of it. We are nothing if not
dignified, are we, Miss Elaine?" said Inness, turning to that young
lady, who was bestowing upon him the boon of her society for the happy

"I am sure I have always thought you had a _great_ deal of dignity, Mr.
Inness," replied Miss Elaine, with her sweetest smile.

We sat down on the rocks and looked at the blue sea. "It is commonplace
to be continually calling it blue," I said; "but it is inevitable, for
no one can look at it without thinking of its color."

"It has seen so much," said Mrs. Clary, in her earnest way; "it has
carried the fleets of all antiquity. The Egyptians, the Greeks, the
Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, and the Romans passed to and fro
across it; the Apostles sailed over it; yet it looks as fresh and young
and untraversed as though created yesterday."

[Illustration: MONACO]

"It certainly is the fairest water in the world," said Janet. "It must
be the reflection of heaven."

"It is the proportion of salt," said the Professor, who had come back
around the rock corner on the knobs. "A larger amount of salt is held in
solution in the Mediterranean than in the Atlantic. It is a very deep
body of water, too, along this coast: at Nice it was found to be three
thousand feet deep only a few yards from the shore."

"These Mediterranean sailors are such cowards," said Inness. "At the
first sign of a storm they all come scudding in. If the Phoenicians
were like them, another boyhood illusion is gone! However, since they
demolished William Tell, I have not much cared."

"The Mediterranean sailors of the past were probably, like those of the
present, obliged to come scudding in," said Verney, "because the winds
were so uncertain and variable. They use lateen-sails for the same
reason, because they can be let down by the run; all the coasting xebecs
and feluccas use them."

"Xebecs and feluccas--delicious words!" said Janet.

"I still maintain that they are cowards," resumed Inness. "The other
day, when there was that capful of wind, you know, twenty of these
delicious xebecs came hurrying into our little port, running into each
other in their haste, and crowding together in the little pool like
frightened chickens under a hen's wings. And they were not all delicious
xebecs, either; there were some good-sized sea-going vessels among them,
brig-rigged in front with the seven or eight small square sails they
string up one above the other, and a towel out to windward."

"The winds of Mentone are wizards," said Margaret; "they never come from
the point they seem to come from. If they blow full in your face from
the east, make up your mind that they come directly from the west. They
are enchanted."

"They are turned aside by the slopes of the mountains," said Baker,

"But the Mediterranean has not lived up to its reputation, after all,"
said Janet. "I expected to see fleets of nautilus, and I have not seen
one. And not a porpoise!"

"For porpoises," said Miss Graves, who had knotted a handkerchief around
her conglomerate, and was carrying it tied to a scarf like a
shawl-strap--"for porpoises you must go to Florida."

We left the cape and went inland through the woods, looking for the old
Roman tomb. We found it at last, appropriately placed in a gray old
olive grove, some of whose trees, no doubt, saw its foundations laid.
The fragment of old roadway near it was introduced by Inness as "the
Julia Augusta, lifting up its head again." It had laid it down last at
the Red Rocks. The tomb originally was as large as a small chapel; one
of the side walls was gone, but the front remained almost perfect. This
front was in three arches; traces of fresco decoration were still
visible under the curves. Below were lines of stone in black and white
alternately, and the same mosaic was repeated above, where there was
also a cornice stretching from the sides to a central empty space, once
filled by the square marble slab bearing the inscription. We found Lloyd
here, sketching; but as we came up he closed his sketch-book, joined
Margaret, and the two strolled off through the old wood, which had, as
Inness remarked, "as many moving associations" as we chose to recall,
"from the feet of the Roman legions to those of the armies of Napoleon."

"I wish we knew what the inscription was," said Janet, who was sitting
on the grass in front of the old tomb. "I should like to know who it was
who was laid here so long, long ago."

"Some old Roman," said Baker.

"He might not have been old," said Verney, who was now sketching in his
turn. "There is another Roman tomb, or fragment of one, above us on the
side of the mountain, and the inscription on that one gives the name of
a youth who died, 'aged eighteen years and ten months,' two thousand
years ago, 'much sorrowed for by his father and his mother.'"

"Love then was the same as now, and will be the same after we are gone,
I suppose," said Janet, thoughtfully, leaning her pretty head back
against an old olive-tree.

"A reason why we should take it while we can," observed Inness.

The Professor and Miss Graves now appeared in sight, for we had come
across from the cape in accidental little groups, and these two had
found themselves one of them. As the Professor had his sack of specimens
and Miss Graves her conglomerate, we thought they looked well together;
but the Professor evidently did not think so, for he immediately joined

"I do not know that there is any surer sign of advancing age in a man
than a growing preference for the society of very young girls--mere
youth _per se_, as the Professor himself would say," said Mrs. Clary to
me in an undertone.

Meanwhile the Professor, unconscious of this judgment, was telling Janet
that she was standing upon the site of the old Roman station "Lumone,"
mentioned in Antony's Itinerary, and that the tomb was that of a
patrician family.

Mrs. Trescott was impressed by this. She said it was "a pæan moment" for
us all, if we would but realize it; and she plucked a fern in

       *       *       *       *       *

One bright day not long after this we went to Mentone's sister city,
Roccabruna, a little town looking as if it were hooked on to the side
of the mountain. As we passed through the "old town" on our donkeys we
met a wedding-party, walking homeward from the church, in the middle of
the street. The robust bride, calm and majestic, moved at the head of
the procession with her father, her white muslin gown sweeping the
pavement behind her. Probably it would have been considered undignified
to lift it. The father, a small, wizened old man, looked timorous, and
the bridegroom, next behind with the bride's mother, still more so, even
the quantity of brave red satin cravat he wore failing to give him a
martial air. Next came the relatives and friends, two and two, all the
gowns of the women sweeping out with dignity. In truth this seemed to be
the feature of the occasion, since at all other times their gowns were
either short or carefully held above the dust. There was no music, no
talking, hardly a smile. A christening party we had met the day before
was much more joyous, for then the smiling father and mother threw from
the carriage at intervals handfuls of sugar-plums and small copper
coins, which were scrambled for by a crowd of children, while the
gorgeously dressed baby was held up proudly at the window.

We were going first to Gorbio. The Gorbio Valley is charming. Of all the
valleys, the narrow Val de Menton is the loveliest for an afternoon
walk; but for longer excursions, and compared with the valleys of Carrei
and Borrigo, that of Gorbio is the most beautiful, principally because
there is more water in the stream, which comes sweeping and tumbling
over its bed of flat rock like the streams of the White Mountains,
whereas the so-called "torrents" of Carrei and Borrigo are generally but
wide, arid torrents of stone. We passed olive and lemon groves, mills,
vineyards, and millions upon millions of violets. Then the path, which
constantly ascended, grew wilder, but not so wild as Inness. I could not
imagine what possessed him. He sang, told stories, vaulted over Baker,
and laughed until the valley rang again; but as his voice was good and
his stories amusing, we enjoyed his merriment. Miss Elaine looked on, I
thought, with an air of pity; but then Miss Elaine pitied everybody. She
would have pitied Jenny Lind at the height of her fame, and no doubt
when she was in Florence she pitied the Venus de' Medici.

We found Gorbio a little village of six hundred inhabitants, perched on
the point of a rock, with the ground sloping away on all sides; the
remains of its old wall and fortified gates were still to be seen. We
entered and explored its two streets--narrow passageways between the old
stone houses, whose one idea seemed to be to crowd as closely together
and occupy as little of the ground space as possible. Above the
clustered roofs towered the ruined walls of what was once the castle,
the tower only remaining distinct. This tower bore armorial bearings,
which I was trying to decipher, when Verney came up with Janet. "Nothing
but those same arms of the Lascaris," he said.

"Why do you say 'nothing but'?" said Janet. "To be royal, and Greek, and
have three castles--for this is the third we have seen--is not nothing,
but something, and a great deal of something. How I wish _I_ had lived
in those days!"

As the Professor was not with us, we knew nothing of the story of
Gorbio, and walked about rather uncomfortable and ill-informed in
consequence. But it turned out that Gorbio, like the knife-grinder, had
no story. "Story? Lord bless you! I have none to tell, sir." Inness,
however, had reserved one fact, which he finally delivered to us under
the great elm in the centre of the little plaza, where we had assembled
to rest. "This peaceful village," he began, "whose idyllic children now
form a gazing circle around us, was the scene of a sanguinary combat
between the French and Spanish-Austrian armies in 1746."

"Oh, modern! modern!" said Verney from behind (where he was throwing
Janet into Gorbio).

"Your pardon," said Inness, with majesty; "not modern at all. In 1746,
as I beg to remind you, even the foundation-stones of our great republic
were not laid, yet the man who ventures to say that it is not, as a
construction, absolutely venerable, from exceeding merit, will be a rash
one. In America, Time is not old or slow; he has given up his
hour-glass, and travels by express. Each month of ours equals one of
your years, each year a century. Therefore have we all a singularly
mature air--as exemplified in myself. But to return. Upon this spot,
then, my friends, there was once--carnage! The only positive and
historical carnage in the neighborhood of Mentone. Therefore all warlike
spirits should come to Gorbio, and breathe the inspiring air."

We did not stay long enough in the inspiring air to become belligerent,
however, but, on the contrary, went peacefully past a quiet old shrine,
and took the path to Roccabruna--one of the most beautiful paths in the
neighborhood of Mentone. By-and-by we came to a tall cross on the top of
a high ridge. We had seen it outlined against the sky while still in the
streets of Gorbio. These mountain-side crosses were not uncommon. They
are not locally commemorative, as we first supposed, but seem to be
placed here and there, where there is a beautiful view, to remind the
gazer of the hand that created it all. Some distance farther we found a
still wider prospect; and then we came down into Roccabruna, and spread
out our lunch on the battlements of the old castle. From this point our
eyes rested on the coast-line stretching east and west, the frowning
Dog's Head at Monaco, and the white winding course of the Cornice Road.
The castle was on the side of the mountain, eight hundred feet above the
sea. Although forming part of the village, it was completely isolated by
its position on a high pinnacle of rock, which rose far above the roofs
on all sides.


"How these poor timid little towns clung close to and under their lords'
walls!" said Baker, with the fine contempt of a young American. "They
are all alike: the castle towering above; next the church and the
priest; and the people--nowhere!"

"The people were happy enough, living in this air," said Mrs. Clary.
"How does it strike you? To me it seems delicious; but many persons find
it too exciting."

"It certainly gives me an appetite," I said, taking another sandwich.

Miss Elaine found it "too warm." Miss Graves found it "too cold." Mrs.
Trescott, having been made herself again by a glass of the "good little
white wine" of Gorbio, said that it was "almost too idealizing." Lloyd
remarked that it was not "too anything unless too delightful," and that,
for his part, he wished that, with the present surroundings, he might
"breathe it forever!" This was gallant. Janet looked at him: he was the
only one who had not bowed at her shrine, and it made her pensive.
Meanwhile Inness's gayety continued; he made a voyage of discovery
through the narrow streets below, coming back with the legend that he
had met the prettiest girl he had seen since his "pretty girl of Arles,"
whose eyes, "enshrined beside those of Miss Trescott" (with a grand
bow), had remained ever since in his "heart's inmost treasury." This,
like Baker's L' Annunziata speech, was both un-American and unnecessary
in the presence of a second young lady, and I looked at Inness,
surprised. But Miss Elaine only smiled on.

The Professor now appeared, having come out from Mentone on a donkey. We
immediately became historical. It appeared that the castle upon whose
old battlements we were idly loitering was one of the "homes" of the
Lascaris, Counts of Ventimiglia, who in 1358 transferred it with its
domains to the Grimaldis, Princes of Monaco.

"These Lascaris and Grimaldis seem to have played at seesaw for the
possession of this coast," said Baker. "Now one is up, and now the
other, but never any one else."

But Janet was impressed. "_Again_ the Lascaris!" she murmured.

"What is your idea of them?" said Verney.

"I hardly know; but of course they were knights in armor; and of course,
being Greeks, they had classic profiles. They were impulsive, and they
were generous; but if any one seriously displeased them, they
immediately ordered him cast into that terrible _oubliette_ we saw

"That," said the Professor, mildly, "is only the well." Then, as if to
strengthen her with something authentic, he added, "The village was
sacked by the Duke of Guise towards the end of the sixteenth century,
when this castle was reduced to the ruined condition in which we find it

"Happily it is not altogether ruined," said Mrs. Trescott, putting up
her eye-glass; "one of the--the apartments seems to be roofed, and to
possess doors."

"That," said the Professor, "is a donkey-stable, erected--or rather

"Do the donkeys come up all these stairs?" I said, amused.

"I believe they do," replied the Professor. "Indeed, I have seen them
coming up after the day's work is over."

"I am sorry, Janet, but I shall never be able to think of this home of
your Lascaris after this without seeing a procession of donkeys coming
up-stairs on their way to their high apartments," I said, laughing.

"The _procession_ might have been the same in the days of the Lascaris,"
suggested Baker.

Roccabruna--brown rock--is an appropriate name for the village, which is
so brown and so mixed with and built into the cliff to which it clings
that it is difficult to tell where man's work ends and that of nature

"The town was the companion of Mentone in its rebellion against the
Princes of Monaco," said the Professor. "Mentone and Roccabruna freed
themselves, but Monaco remained enslaved."

"They are all now in France," said Baker.

"Sir!" replied the Professor, with heat, "it is in a much worse place
than France that wretched Monaco now finds herself!"

We went homeward down the mountain-side, passing the little chapel of
the Madonna della Pausa--a pause being indeed necessary when one is
ascending. Here, where the view was finest, there was another way-side
cross. Farther on, as we entered the old olive wood below, Margaret
dismounted; she always liked to walk through the silver-gray shade; and
Lloyd seemed to have adopted an equal fondness for the same tint.

That evening, when we were alone, Margaret explained the secret of
Inness's remarkable and unflagging gayety. It seemed that Miss Elaine
had, during the day before, confided to Verney--as a fellow-countryman,
I suppose--her self-reproach concerning "that poor young American
gentleman, Mr. Inness." What _should_ she do? Would he advise her? She
must go to some one, and she did not feel like troubling her dear mamma.
It was true that Mr. Inness had been with her a good deal, had helped
her wind her worsteds in the evening, but she never meant
anything--never dreamed of anything. And now, she could not but
feel--there was something in his manner that forced her to see--In
short, had not Mr. Verney noticed it?

Now I have no doubt but that Verney told her he had "seen" and had
"noticed" everything she desired. But in the meanwhile he could not
resist confiding the story to Baker, who having been already a victim,
was overcome with glee, and in his turn hastened to repeat the tale to

Inness raged, but hardly knew what to do. He finally decided to become a
perfect Catharine-wheel of gayety, shooting off laughter and jokes in
all directions to convince the world that he remained heart-whole.

"But it will be of no avail," I said to Margaret, laughing, as I
recalled the look of soft pity on Miss Elaine's face all day; "she will
think it but the gayety of desperation." Then, more soberly, I added:
"Mr. Lloyd told you this, I suppose? You are with him a great deal, are
you not?"

"You see that I am, aunt. But it is only because she has not come yet."


"The brighter and younger woman who will take my place." But I did not
think she believed it.

       *       *       *       *       *

On another day we went to Castellare, a little stone village much like
Gorbio, perched on its ridge, and rejoicing in an especial resemblance
to one of Cæsar's fortified camps. The castle here was not so much a
castle as a château; its principal apartment was adorned with frescos
representing the history of Adam and Eve. We should not have seen these
frescos if it had not been for Miss Graves: I am afraid we should have
(there is no other word) shirked them. But Miss Graves had heard of the
presence of ancient works of art, and was bent upon finding them. In
vain Lloyd conducted her in and out of half a dozen old houses,
suggesting that each one was "probably" all that was left of the
"château." Miss Graves remained inflexibly unconvinced, and in the end
gained her point. We all saw Adam and Eve.

"Why did they want frescos away out here in this primitive little
village to which no road led, hardly even a donkey path?" I said.

"That is the very reason," replied Margaret. "They had no society,
nothing to do; so they looked at their frescos exhaustively."

"What do those eagles at the corners represent?" said Janet.

"They are the device of the Lascaris," replied the Professor.

"Do you mean to tell me that _this_ was one of their homes also?" she
exclaimed. "Let a chair be brought, and all of you leave me. I wish to
remain here alone, and imagine that I am one of them."

"Couldn't you imagine two?" said Inness. And he gained his point.

On our way home we found another block in the main street, and paused.
We were near what we called the umbrella place--an archway opening down
towards the old port; here against the stone wall an umbrella-maker had
established his open-air shop, and his scarlet and blue lined parasols
and white umbrellas, hung up at the entrance, made a picturesque spot of
color we had all admired. This afternoon we were late; it was nearly
twilight, and, in this narrow, high-walled street, almost night. As we
waited we heard chanting, and through the dusky archway came a
procession. First a tall white crucifix borne between two swinging
lamps; then the surpliced choir-boys, chanting; then the incense and the
priests; then a coffin, draped, and carried in the old way on the
shoulders of the bearers, who were men robed in long-hooded black gowns
reaching to the feet, their faces covered, with only two holes for the
eyes. These were members of the Society of Black Penitents, who, with
the White Penitents, attend funerals by turn, and care for the sick and
poor, from charitable motives alone, and without reward. Behind the
Penitents walked the relatives and friends, each with a little lighted
taper. As the procession came through the dark archway, crossed the
street, and wound up the hill into the "old town," its effect, with
the glancing lights and chanting voices, was weirdly picturesque. It was
on its way to the cemetery above.

[Illustration: THE KING OF THE OLIVES]

"Did you ever read this, Mr. Lloyd?" I heard Margaret say behind me, as
we went onward towards home:

    "'One day, in desolate wind-swept space,
      In twilight-land, in no-man's-land,
    Two hurrying Shapes met face to face,
      And bade each other stand.
    "And who art thou?" cried one, agape,
      Shuddering in the gloaming light.
    "I do not know," said the second Shape:
      "I only died last night."'"

I turned. Lloyd was looking at her curiously, or rather with wonder.

"Come, Margaret," I said, falling behind so as to join them, "the
English are not mystical, as some of us are. They are content with what
they can definitely know, and they leave the rest."

During the next week, after a long discussion, we decided to go up the
valley of the Nervia. The discussion was not inharmonious: we liked

"This is by no means one of the ordinary Mentone excursions," said Mrs.
Clary, as our three carriages ascended the Cornice Road towards the
east, on a beautiful morning after one of the rare showers. "Many
explore all of the other valleys, and visit Monaco and Monte Carlo; but
comparatively few go up the Nervia."

The scene of the instalment of our twelve selves in these three
carriages, by-the-way, was amusing. Between the inward determination of
Inness, Verney, Baker, and the Professor to be in the carriage which
held Janet, and the equally firm determination of Miss Elaine to be in
the carriage which held _them_, it seemed as if we should never be
placed. But no one said what he or she wished; far from it. Everybody
was very polite, wonderfully polite; everybody offered his or her place
to everybody else. Lloyd, after waiting a few moments, calmly helped
Margaret into one of the carriages, handed in her shawl, and then took a
seat himself opposite. But the rest of us surged helplessly to and fro
among the wheels, not quite knowing what to do, until the arrival of the
hotel omnibus hurried us, when we took our places hastily, without any
arrangement at all, and drove off as follows: in the first carriage,
Mrs. Trescott, Janet, Miss Elaine, and myself; in the second, Miss
Graves, Inness, Verney, and Baker; in the third, Mrs. Clary, Margaret,
Lloyd, and the Professor. This assortment was so comical that I laughed
inwardly all the way up the first hill. Miss Elaine looked as if she was
on the point of shedding tears; and the Professor, who did not enjoy the
conversation of either Margaret or Mrs. Clary, was equally discomfited.
As for the faces of the three young men shut in with Miss Graves, they
were a study. However, it did not last long. The young men soon
preferred "to walk uphill." Then we stopped at Mortola to see the
Hanbury garden, and took good care not to arrange ourselves in the same
manner a second time. Still, as four persons cannot, at least in the
present state of natural science, occupy at the same moment the space
only large enough for one, there was all day more or less manoeuvring.
From Mortola to Ventimiglia I was in the carriage with Janet, Inness,
and Verney.

"What ruin is that on the top of the hill?" said Janet. "It looks like a

"It is a castle--Castel d'Appio," said Verney; "a position taken by the
Genoese in 1221 from the Lascaris, who--"

"Stop the carriage!--I must go up," said Janet.

"I assure you, Miss Trescott, that, Lascaris or no Lascaris, you will
find yourself mummied in mud after this rain," said Inness. "_I_ went up
there in a dry time, and even then had to wade."

Now if there is anything which Janet especially cherishes, it is her
pretty boots; so Castel d'Appio remained unvisited upon its height, in
lonely majesty against the sky. The next object of interest was a square
tower, standing on the side-hill not far above the road; it was not
large on the ground, rather was it narrow, but it rose in the air to an
imposing height. I could not imagine what its use had been: it stood too
far from the sea for a lookout, and, from its shape, could hardly have
been a residence; in its isolation, not a fortress. Inness said it
looked like a steeple with the church blown away; and then, inspired by
his own comparison, he began to chant an ancient ditty about

    "'The next thing they saw was a barn on a hill:
            One said 'twas a barn;
            The other said "Na-ay;"
    And t'other 'twas a church with its steeple blown away:

This extremely venerable ballad delighted Miss Graves in the carriage
behind so that she waved her black parasol in applause. She asked if
Inness could not sing "Springfield Mountain."

"There is nothing left now," I said, laughing, "but the 'Battle of the

Verney, who had sketched the tower early in the winter, explained that
the old road to Ventimiglia passed directly through the lower story,
which was built in the shape of an arch. All the carriages were now
together, as we gazed at the relic.

"The road goes through?" said Miss Graves. "Probably, then, it was a


This was so probable, although unromantic, that thereafter the venerable
structure was called by that name, or, as Inness suggested, "not to be
too disrespectful, the mediæval T.G."

Ventimiglia, seven miles from Mentone, was "one of the most ancient
towns in Liguria," the Professor remarked. Mrs. Trescott, Mrs. Clary,
and I looked much wiser after this information, but carefully abstained
from saying anything to each other of the cloudy nature of our ideas
respecting the geographical word. However, we noticed, unaided, that its
fortifications were extensive, for we rolled over a drawbridge to enter
it, passing high stone-walls, bastions, and port-holes, while on the
summit of the hill above us frowned a large Italian fort. The Roya, a
broad river which divides the town into two parts, is crossed by a long
bridge; and we were over this bridge and some distance beyond before we
discovered that we had left the old quarter on the other side, its
closely clustering roofs and spires having risen so directly over our
heads on the steep side-hill that we had not observed them. Should we go
back? The carriages drew up to consider. We had still "a long drive
before us;" these "old Riviera villages" were "all alike;" the hill
seemed "very steep;" and "we can come here, you know, at any time"--were
some of the opinions given. The Professor, who really wished to stop,
gallantly yielded. Miss Graves, alone in the opposition, was obliged to
yield also; but she was deeply disappointed. The cathedral, formerly
dedicated to Jupiter, "'possesses a white marble pulpit incrusted with
mosaics, and an octagon font, very ancient,'" she read, mournfully,
aloud, from her manuscript note-book. "'The Church of St. Michael, also,
guards Roman antiquities of surpassing interest.'" This word "guards"
had a fine effect.

But, "we can come here at any time, you know," carried the day; and we
drove on. I may as well mention that, as usual in such cases, we never
did "come here at any time," save on the one occasion of our departure
for Florence--an occasion which no railway traveller going to Italy by
this route is likely soon to forget, the Ventimiglia custom-house being
modelled patriotically upon the circles of Dante's "Inferno."

When we were at a safe distance--"I suppose you know, Miss Trescott,
that Ventimiglia was the principal home of your Lascaris?" said Verney.
"First of all, they were Counts of Ventimiglia: that Italian port stands
on the site of their old castle. I have been looking into their
genealogy a little on your account; and I find that the first count of
whom we have authentic record was a son of the King of Italy, A.D. 950.
His son married the Princess Eudoxie, daughter of Theodore Lascaris,
Emperor of Greece, and assumed the arms and name of his wife's family.
Their descendants, besides being Counts of Ventimiglia, became Seigniors
of Mentone, Castellare, Gorbio, Peille, Tende, and Briga, Roccabruna,
and what is now L'Annunziata. They also had a château at Nice."

"Let us go back!" said Janet.

"To Nice?" I asked, smiling.

But Verney appeased her with an offering--nothing less than a sketch he
had made. "The Lascaris," he said, as if introducing them. And there
they were, indeed, a group of knights on horseback, dressed in velvet
doublets and lace ruffles, with long white plumes, followed by a train
of pages and squires with armor and led-horses. All had Greek profiles:
in truth, they were but various views of the Apollo Belvedere. This
splendid party was crossing the drawbridge of a castle, and, from a
latticed casement above, two beautiful and equally Greek ladies, attired
in ermine, with long veils and golden crowns, waved their scarfs in
token of adieu.

"Charming!" said Janet, much pleased. (And in truth it was, if fanciful,
a very pretty sketch.) "But who are those ladies above?"

"I suppose they had wives and sisters, did they not?" said Verney.

"I suppose they did--of _some_ sort," said Janet, disparagingly.

But Verney now produced a second sketch; "another study of the same
subject," he called it. This was a picture of the same number of men,
clad in clumsy armor, with rough, coarse faces, attacking a pass and
compelling two miserable frightened peasants with loaded mules to yield
up what they had, while, from a rude tower above, like our mediæval T.
G., two or three swarthy women with children were watching the scene.
The wrappings of the two sketches being now removed, we saw that one was
labelled, "The Lascaris--her Idea of them;" and the other, "The
Lascaris--as they were."

We all laughed. But I think Janet was not quite pleased. After the next
change Verney found himself, by some mysterious chance, left to occupy
the seat beside Miss Elaine, while Baker had his former place.

The Nervia, a clear rapid little snow-formed river, ran briskly down
over its pebbles towards the sea. Our road followed the western bank,
and before long brought us to Campo Rosso, a little village with a
picturesque belfry, a church whose façade was decorated with old
frescos, two marble sirens spouting water, and numberless "bits" in the
way of vistas through narrow arched passages and crooked streets, which
are the delight of artists. But Campo Rosso was not our destination, and
entering the carriage again, we went onward through an olive wood whose
broad terraces extended above, below, and on all sides as far as eye
could reach. When we had stopped wondering over its endlessness, and had
grown accustomed to the gray light, suddenly we came out under the open
sky again, with Dolce Acqua before us, its castle above, its church
tower below, and, far beyond, our first view of snow-capped peaks rising
high and silvery against the deep blue sky. Inness and Baker threw up
their hats and saluted the snow with an American hurrah. "What with
those white peaks and this Italian sky, I feel like the Merry Swiss Boy
and the Marble Faun rolled into one," said Baker.

We drove up to the Locanda Desiderio, or "Desired Inn," as Inness
translated it. It was now noon, and in the brick-floored apartment below
a number of peasants were eating sour bread and drinking wine. But the
host, a handsome young Italian, hastened to show us an upper chamber,
where, with the warm sunshine flooding through the open windows across
the bare floor, we spread our luncheon on a table covered with coarse
but snowy homespun, and decked with remarkable plates in brilliant hues
and still more brilliant designs. The luncheon was accompanied by
several bottles of "the good little white wine" of the neighborhood--an
accompaniment we had learned to appreciate.

Upon the chimney-piece of a room adjoining ours, whose door stood open,
there was an old brass lamp. In shape it was not unlike a high
candlestick crowned with an oval reservoir for oil, which had three
little curving tubes for wicks, and an upright handle above ending in a
ring; it was about a foot and a half high, and from it hung three brass
chains holding a brass lamp-scissors and little brass extinguishers.
Mrs. Clary, Mrs. Trescott, Miss Graves, Miss Elaine, and myself all
admired this lamp as we strolled about the rooms after luncheon before
starting for the castle. It happened that Janet was not there; she had
gone, by an unusual chance, with Lloyd, to look at some cinque-cento
frescos in an old church somewhere, and was, I have no doubt, deeply
interested in them. When she returned she too spied the old lamp, and
admired it. "I wish I had it for my own room at home," she exclaimed. "I
feel sure it is Aladdin's."

[Illustration: DOLCE ACQUA]

"Come, come, Janet," called Mrs. Trescott from below. "The castle

"It has waited some time already," said Inness--"a matter of six or
seven centuries, I believe."

"And looks as though it would wait six or seven more," I said, as we
stood on the arched bridge admiring the massive walls above.

"It has withstood numerous attacks," said the Professor. "Genoese armies
came up this valley more than once to take it, and went back

"To me it is more especially distinguished by _not_ having been a home
of the Lascaris," said Baker.

"To whom, then, did it belong?" said Janet, contemptuously.

We all, in a chorus, answered grandly, "To the Dorias!" (We were so glad
to have reached a name we knew.)

The castle crowned the summit of a crag, ruined but imposing; in shape a
parallelogram, it had in front square towers, five stories in height,
pierced with round-arched windows. It was the finest as well as largest
ruin we lately landed Americans had seen, and we went hither and thither
with much animation, telling each other all we knew, and much that we
did not know, about ruined towers, square towers, drawbridges, moats,
donjon keeps, and the like; while Miss Elaine, who had placed herself
beside Verney on the knoll where he was sketching, looked on in a kindly
patronizing way, as much as to say: "Enjoy yourselves, primitive
children of the New World. We of England are familiar with ruins."

Margaret and Lloyd found a seat in one of the ruined windows of the
south tower; I stood beside them for a few moments looking at the view.
On the north the narrow valley curved and went onward, while over its
dark near green rose the glittering snowy peaks so far away. In the
south, the blue of the Mediterranean stretched across the mouth of the
valley, whose sides were bold and high; the little river gleamed out in
spots of silver here and there, and the white belfry of Campo Rosso rose
picturesquely against the dark olive forest. Directly under us were the
roofs of the village, and the old stone bridge of one high arch. "Do you
notice that many of these roofs are flat, with benches, and pots of
flowers?" said Lloyd. "You do not see that in Mentone. It is thoroughly

Janet, Mrs. Trescott, Inness, Baker, and the Professor were up on the
highest point of the crag, where the Professor was giving a succinct
account of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. His words floated down to us,
but to which of those celebrated and eternally quarrelling factions
these Dorias belong I regret to say I cannot now remember. But it was
evident that he was talking eloquently, and Inness, who was quite
distanced, by way of diversion threw pebbles at the north tower.

We came down from the castle after a while, and strolled through the
village streets--all of us save Margaret and Lloyd, who remained sitting
in their window. Mrs. Trescott, seeing a vaulted entrance, stopped to
examine it, and the broad doors being partly open, she peeped within. As
there was more vaulting and no one to forbid, she stepped into the old
hall, and we all followed her. We were looking at the massive, finely
proportioned stairway, when a little girl appeared above gazing down
curiously. She was a pretty child of seven or eight, and held some
little thumbed school-books under her arm.

"Is this a school?" asked Verney, in Italian.

She nodded shyly, and ran away, but soon returned accompanied by a
Sister, or nun, who, with a mixture of politeness and timidity, asked if
we wished to see their schools. Of course we wished to see everything,
and going up the broad stairway, we were ushered into an unexpected and
remarkable apartment.

"We came to see an infant school, and we find a row of noblemen," said
Baker. "They must be all the Dorias upon their native heath!"

The "heath" was the wall, upon which, in black frames, were ranged
forty-two portraits in a long procession going around three sides of the
great room, which must have been fifty feet in length. At the head of
the apartment was a picture seven feet square, representing a
full-blooming lady in a long-bodied white satin dress, with an
extraordinary structure of plumes and pearls on her head, accompanied by
a stately little heir in a pink satin court suit, and several younger
children. One grim, dark old man in red, farther down the hall, was
"Roberto: Seigneur Dolce Acqua. Anno 1270." A dame in yellow brocade,
with hoop, ruff, and jewels, and a little curly dog under her arm, was
"Brigida: Domina Dolce Acqua. 1290."

"So they carried dogs in that way then as well as now," observed Janet.

The Mother Superior now came in. She informed us that this was the
château of the Dorias, built after their castle was destroyed, and
occupied by descendants of the family until a comparatively recent
period. Its plain exterior, extending across one end of the little
square, we had not especially distinguished from the other buildings
which joined it, forming the usual continuous wall of the Riviera towns.
The château was now a convent and school. There were benches across one
side of the large apartment where the village children were already
assembled under the black-framed portraits, but there was not much
studying that day, I think, save a study of strangers.

"Here is the real treasure," said Verney.

It was a chimney-piece of stone, extending across one end of the room,
richly carved with various devices in relief, figures, and ornaments,
and a row of heads on shields across the front, now the profile of an
old bearded man looking out, and now that of a youth in armor. It was
fifteen feet high, and a remarkably fine piece of work.

"Quite thrown away here," said Miss Graves.

"Oh, I don't know; the portraits can see it," replied Janet.

The Mother Superior conducted us all over the château, reserving only
the corridor where were her own and the Sisters' apartments. The
dignified stone stairway with its broad stone steps extended unchanged
to the top of the house.

"In the matter of stairways," I said, "I must acknowledge that our New
World ideas are deficient. We have spacious rooms, broad windows, high
ceilings, but such a stairway as this is beyond us."

The empty sunny rooms above were gayly painted in fresco. At one end of
the house a door opened into a little latticed balcony, into which we
stepped, finding ourselves in an adjoining church, high up on the wall
at one side of the altar. Here the Sisters came to pray, and as we
departed, one of them glided in and knelt down in the dusky corner.

"Perhaps she is going to pray for us," said Inness.

"I am sure we need it," replied Janet, seriously.

In the garret was a Sedan-chair, once elaborately gilded.

"I suppose they went down to Ventimiglia in that," said Baker--"those
fine old dames below."

From one of the rooms on the second floor opened a little cell or
closet, part of whose flooring had been removed, showing a hollow space
beneath following the massive exterior wall.

[Illustration: PIFFERARI]

"Here," said the Mother Superior, "the papers of the family were
concealed at the approach of the first Napoleon, and not taken out for a
number of years. The flooring has never been replaced."

The Mother Superior spoke only Italian, which Verney translated, much to
the envy of the younger men. The Professor was not with us, for as soon
as he learned that the place was "papist" he departed, although Inness
suggested that the street was papist also, and likewise the very air
must be redolent of Rome. But the Professor was an example of "coelum,
non animum, mutant, qui trans mare currunt," and quite determined to be
as Protestant in Italy as he was in Connecticut. He would not desert his
colors because under a foreign sky, as so many Americans desert them.

The Mother now conducted us to a little square parlor, with south
windows opening upon a balcony full of pots of flowers; the walls and
ceiling of this little room were glowing with color--paintings in fresco
more suited to the Dorias, I fancy, than to the "Sisters of the Snow,"
for this was the poetical name of the little black-robed band. In this
worldly little room we found wine waiting for us, and grapes which were
almost raisins: we had never seen them in transition before. The wine
was excellent, and Mrs. Trescott partook with much graciousness. After
partaking, she employed Verney in translating to the Mother a number of
her own characteristic sentences. But Verney must have altered them
somewhat en route, for I hardly think the Mother would have remained so
calmly placid if she had comprehended that "this whole scene--the
grapes, the wine, and the frescos"--reminded Mrs. Trescott of
"Cleopatra, and of Sardanapalus and his golden flagons." Presently two
of the Sisters entered with coffee which they had prepared for us; after
serving it, they retired to a corner, where they stood gently regarding
us. Then another entered, and then another, unobtrusively taking their
places beside the others. It was interesting to notice the simplicity of
their mild gaze; although brown and middle-aged, their expression was
like that of little children. When they learned that some of us were
from America they were much impressed, and looked at each other

"I suppose it does not seem to them but a little while since Columbus
discovered us," said Baker.

At last it was time for us to go: we bade the little group farewell, and
left some coins "for their poor."

"Though we may not meet on earth, we shall see you all again in heaven,"
said the Mother, and all the Sisters bowed assent. They accompanied us
down to the outer door, and waved their hands in adieu as we crossed the
little square. When, at the other side, we turned to look back, we saw
their black skirts retiring up the stairway to their little school.

"Farewell, Sisters of the Snow," said Janet. "May we all so live as to
keep that rendezvous you have given us!"

The carriages were now ordered, and Margaret and Lloyd summoned from the
castle tower. We were standing at the door of the Desired Inn,
collecting our baskets and wraps, when the Professor appeared with a
long narrow parcel in his hand. This he stowed away carefully in one of
the carriages, changing its position several times, as if anxious it
should be carried safely. While he was thus engaged in his absorbed,
near-sighted way, Inness came down the stone stairs from the upper
chamber, and going across to Janet, who was leaning on the parapet
looking at the river, he was on the point of presenting something to
her, when his little speech was stopped by the appearance of Baker
coming around the corner from the front of the house, with a parcel
exactly like his own.


"Two!" cried Inness, bursting into a peal of laughter; and then we
saw, as he tore off the paper, that he had the old brass lamp which
Janet had admired. Meanwhile Baker had another, the Desired Inn having
been evidently equal to the occasion, and to driving a good bargain. Our
laughter aroused the Professor, who turned and gazed at our group from
the step of the carriage. But having no idea of losing the credit of his
unusual gallantry simply because some one else had had the same thought,
he now extracted his own parcel and silently extended it.

"A third!" cried Inness. And then we all gave way again.

"I am so much obliged to you," said Janet, sweetly, when there was a
pause, "but I am sorry you took the trouble. Because--because Mr. Verney
has already kindly given me one, which is packed in one of the baskets."

At this we laughed again, more irresistibly than before--all, I mean,
save Miss Elaine, who merely said, in the most unamused voice, "How
_very_ amusing!" As we had all admired the ancient lamp (although no one
thought of offering it to _us_), the superfluous gifts easily found
places among us, and were not the less thankfully received because
obtained in that roundabout way.

We now left the "Sweet Waters" behind us, and went down the valley
towards the sea.

"There is another town as picturesque as Dolce Acqua some miles farther
up the valley," said Verney. "I have a sketch of it. It is called

"Oh, let us go there!" said Janet.

"We cannot, my daughter, spend the entire remainder of our earthly
existence among the Maritime Alps," said Mrs. Trescott.

Inness had the place beside Janet all the way home.

On the Cornice, a few miles from Mentone, we came upon a boy and girl
sitting by the road-side; they had a flageolet and a sort of bagpipe,
and wore the costume of Italian peasants, their foot-coverings being the
complicated bands and strings which are, in American eyes (the strings
transmuted into ribbons), indelibly associated with bandits. "They are
pifferari," said Verney; and we stopped the carriages and asked them to
play for us. The boy played on his flageolet, and the girl sang. As she
stood beside us in the dust, her brown hands clasped before her, her
great dark eyes never once stopped gazing at Janet, who, clad that day
in a soft cream-white walking costume, with gloves, round hat, and plume
of the same tint, looked not unlike a lily on its stem. The Italian girl
was of nearly the same age in years, and of fully the same age in
womanhood, and it seemed as if she could not remove her fascinated gaze
from the fair white stranger. Inness and Verney both tried to attract
her attention; but the boy gathered up the coins they dropped, and the
girl gazed on. As the Professor was tired, and did not care for music,
we drove onward; but, as far as we could see, the Italian girl still
stood in the centre of the road, gazing after the carriages.

"What do you suppose is in her mind?" I said. "Envy?"

"Hardly," said Verney. "To her, probably, Miss Trescott is like a being
from another world--a saint or Madonna."

"Ah, Mr. Verney, what exaggerated comparisons!" said Miss Elaine, in
soft reproach. "Besides, it is irreligious, and you _promised_ me you
would not be irreligious."


Verney looked somewhat aghast at this revelation, of course overheard by
Mrs. Clary and myself. It was rather hard upon him to have his misdeeds
brought up in this way--the little sentimental speeches he had made
to Miss Elaine in the remote past--i.e., before Janet arrived. But he
was obliged to bear it.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I suppose," said Inness, one morning, "that you are not all going away
from Mentone without even _seeing_ Mon--Monaco?"

"It can be _seen_ from Turbia," answered the Professor, grimly. "And
that view is near enough."

Inness made a grimace, and the subject was dropped. But it ended in our
seeing Turbia from Monaco, and not Monaco from Turbia.

"There is no use in fighting against it," said Mrs. Clary, shrugging her
shoulders. "You will have to go once. Every one does. There is a fate
that drives you."

"And the joke is," said Baker, in high glee, "that the Professor is
going too. It seems that the view from Turbia was not near enough for
him, after all."

"I am not surprised," said Mrs. Clary. "I thought he would go: they all
do. I have seen English deans, Swiss pastors, and American Presbyterian
ministers looking on in the gambling-rooms, under the principle, I
suppose, of knowing something of the evil they oppose. They do not go
but once; but that once they are very apt to allow themselves."

The views along the Cornice west of Mentone are very beautiful. As we
came in sight of Monaco, lying below in the blue sea, we caught its
alleged resemblance to a vessel at anchor.

"Monaco, or Portus Herculis Monoeci, was well known to the ancients,"
said the Professor. "Its name appears in Virgil, Tacitus, Pliny, Strabo,
and other classical writers. Before the invention of gunpowder its
situation made it impregnable. It was one of the places of refuge in the
long struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines" (we were rather
discouraged by the appearance of these names so early in the day), "and
it is mentioned by an Italian historian as having become in the
fourteenth century a 'home for criminals' and a 'gathering-place for
pirates'--terms equally applicable at the present day." The Professor's
voice was very sonorous.

Inness, the Professor, Janet, and myself were in a carriage together. As
Mrs. Clary and Miss Graves did not accompany us that day, we had two
carriages and a phaeton, the latter occupied by Lloyd and Verney.

"As to Monaco history," remarked Inness, carelessly, when the Professor
ceased, "I happen to remember a few items. The Grimaldis came next to
Hercules, and have had possession here since A.D. 980. Marshal
Boucicault, who was extremely devout, and never missed hearing two
masses a day, besieged the place and took it before Columbus and the
other Boucicault discovered America. In the reign of Louis the
Fourteenth a Prince of Monaco was sent as ambassador to Rome, and
entered that city with horses shod in silver, the shoes held by one nail
only, so that they might drop the sooner. Another Prince of Monaco went
against the Turks with his galleys, and brought back to this shore the
inestimable gift of the prickly-pear, for which we all bless his memory
whenever we brush against its cheerful thorns. _Three_ Princes of Monaco
were murdered in their own palace, which of course was much more
home-like than being murdered elsewhere. The Duke of York died there
also: not murdered, I believe, although there is a ghost in the story.
The principality is now three miles long, and the present prince retains
authority under the jurisdiction of France. To preserve this authority
he maintains a strictly disciplined standing army (they never sit down)
of ten able-bodied men."

These sentences were rolled out by Inness with such rapidity that I was
quite bewildered; as for the Professor, he was hopelessly stranded
half-way down the list, and never came any farther.

Passing Monte Carlo, we drove over to the palace.

"Certainly there is no town on the Riviera so beautifully situated as
Monaco," I said, as the road swept around the little port and ascended
the opposite slope. "The high rock on which it stands, jutting out
boldly into the sea, gives it all the isolation of an island, and yet
protects by its peninsula this clear deep little harbor within."

The old town of Monaco proper is on the top of this rocky presqu'ile,
three hundred feet above the sea, and west of Monte Carlo, the suburb of
Condamine, and the chapel of St. Devote. Leaving the carriages, we
entered the portal of the palace, conducted by a tenth of the standing

"My first living and roofed palace," said Janet, as we ascended the
broad flight of marble steps leading to the "Court of Honor," which was
glowing with recently renewed frescos. A solemn man in black received
us, and conducted us with much dignity through thirteen broad, long
rooms, with ceilings thirty feet high--a procession of stately
apartments which left upon our minds a blurred general impression of
gilded vases, crimson curtains, slippery floors, ormolu clocks, wreaths
of painted roses, fat Cupids, and uninhabitableness. The only trace of
home life in all the shining vista was a little picture of the present
Prince, taken when he was a baby, a life-like, chubby little fellow,
smiling unconcernedly out on all this cold splendor. It was amusing to
see how we women gathered around this little face, with a sort of
involuntary comfort.

In the Salle Grimaldi there was a vast chimney-piece of one block of
marble covered with carved devices.

In the room where the Duke of York died there was a broad bed on a
platform, curtained and canopied with heavy damask, and surrounded by a
gilded railing. We stood looking at this structure in silence.

"It is very impressive," murmured Mrs. Trescott at last. Then, with a
long reminiscent sigh, as if she had been present and chief mourner on
the occasion, she added: "There is nothing more inscrutable than the
feet of the flying hours: they are winged!--winged!"


"On the whole," said Janet, as we went down the marble steps towards
the army--"on the whole, taking it as a _palace_, I am disappointed."

"What did you expect?" said Verney.

"Oh, all the age of chivalry," she answered, smiling.

"The so-called age of chivalry--" began the Professor; but he never
finished; because, by some unexpected adjustment of places, he found
himself in the phaeton with Baker, and that adventurous youth drove him
over to Monte Carlo at such a speed that he could only close his eyes
and hold on.

The Casino of Monte Carlo is now the most important part of the
principality of Monaco; instead of being subordinate to the palace, the
latter has become but an appendage to the modern splendor across the
bay. Monte Carlo occupies a site as beautiful as any in the world. In
front the blue sea laves its lovely garden; on the east the soft
coast-line of Italy stretches away in the distance; on the west is the
bold curving rock of Monaco, with its castle and port, and the great
cliff of the Dog's Head. Behind rises the near mountain high above; and
on its top, outlined against the sky, stands the old tower of Turbia in
its lonely ruined majesty, looking towards Rome.

"That tower is nineteen hundred feet above the sea," said the Professor.
"It was built by the Romans, on the boundary between Liguria and Gaul,
to commemorate a victory gained by Augustus Cæsar over the Ligurians. It
was called Tropæum Augusti, from which it has degenerated into Turbia.
Fragments of the inscription it once bore have been found on stones
built into the houses of the present village. The inscription itself is,
fortunately, fully preserved in Pliny, as follows: 'To Cæsar, son of the
divine Cæsar Augustus, Emperor for the fourteenth time, in the
seventeenth year of his reign, the Senate and the Roman people have
decreed this monument, in token that under his orders and auspices all
the Alpine races have been subdued by Roman arms. Names of the
vanquished:' and here follow the names of forty-five Alpine races."

At first we thought that the Professor was going to repeat them all; but
although no doubt he knew them, he abstained.

"The village behind the tower--we cannot see it from here--seems to be
principally built of fragments of the old Roman stone-work," said Lloyd.
"I have been up there several times."

"Then we do not see the Trophy as it was?" I said.

"No; it is but a ruin, although it looks imposing from here. It was used
as a fortress during the Middle Ages, and partially destroyed by the
French at the beginning of the last century."

"It must have been majestic indeed, since, after all its dismemberment,
it still remains so majestic now," said Margaret.

We were standing on the steps of the Casino during this conversation; I
think we all rather made ourselves stand there, and talk about Turbia
and the Middle Ages, because the evil and temptation we had come to see
were so near us, and we knew that they were. We all had a sentence ready
which we delivered impartially and carelessly; but none the less we knew
that we were going in, and that nothing would induce us to remain

[Illustration: THE RIDE TO SANT' AGNESE]

From a spacious, richly decorated entrance-hall, the gambling-rooms
opened by noiseless swinging doors. Entering, we saw the tables
surrounded by a close circle of seated players, with a second circle
standing behind, playing over their shoulders, and sometimes even a
third behind these. Although so many persons were present, it was very
still, the only sounds being the chink, chink, of the gold and silver
coins, and the dull, mechanical voices of the officials announcing
the winning numbers. There were tables for both roulette and trente et
quarante, the playing beginning each day at eleven in the morning and
continuing without intermission until eleven at night. Everywhere was
lavished the luxury of flowers, paintings, marbles, and the costliest
decoration of all kinds; beyond, in a superb hall, the finest orchestra
on the Continent was playing the divine music of Beethoven; outside, one
of the loveliest gardens in the world offered itself to those who wished
to stroll awhile. And all of this was given freely, without restriction
and without price, upon a site and under a sky as beautiful as earth can
produce. But one sober look at the faces of the steady players around
those tables betrayed, under all this luxury and beauty, the real horror
of the place; for men and women, young and old alike, had the gambler's
strange fever in the expression of the eye, all the more intense
because, in almost every case, so governed, so stonily repressed, so
deadly cold! After a half-hour of observation, we left the rooms, and I
was glad to breathe the outside air once more. The place had so struck
to my heart, with its intensity, its richness, its stillness, and its
terror, that I had not been able even to smile at the Professor's
demeanor; he had signified his disapprobation (while looking at
everything quite closely, however) by buttoning his coat up to the chin
and keeping his hat on. I almost expected to see him open his umbrella.

"To me, they seemed all mad," I said, with a shudder, looking up at the
calm mountains with a sense of relief.

"It is a species of madness," said Verney. Miss Elaine was with him; she
had taken his arm while in the gambling-room; she said she felt "so
timid." Margaret and Lloyd meanwhile had only looked on for a moment or
two, and had then disappeared; we learned afterwards that they had gone
to the concert-room, where music beautiful enough for paradise was
filling the perfumed air.

"For those who care nothing for gambling, that music is one of the
baits," said Lloyd. "When you really love music, it is very hard to keep
away from it; and here, where there is no other music to compete with
it, it is offered to you in its divinest perfection, at an agreeable
distance from Nice and Mentone, along one of the most beautiful
driveways in the world, with a Parisian hotel at its best to give you,
besides, what other refreshment you need. Hundreds of persons come here
sincerely 'only to hear the music.' But few go away without 'one look'
at the gambling tables; and it is upon that 'one look' that the
proprietors of the Casino, knowing human nature, quietly and securely

The Professor, having seen it all, had no words to express his feeling,
but walked across to call the carriages with the air of a man who shook
off perdition from every finger. And yet I felt sure, from what I knew
of him, that he had appreciated the attractions of the place less than
any one of us--had not, in fact, been reached by them at all. Those who
do not feel the allurements of a temptation are not tempted. Not a grain
in the Professor's composition responded to the invitation of the siren
Chance; they were not allurements to him; they were but the fantastic
phantasmagoria of a dream. The lovely garden he appreciated only
botanically; the view he could not see; abstemious by nature, he cared
nothing for the choice rarities of the hotel; while the music, the
heavenly music, was to him no more than the housewife's clatter of tin
pans. Yet I might have explained this to him all the way home, he would
never have comprehended it, but would have gone on thinking that it was
simply, on his part, superior virtue and self-control.

But I had no opportunity to explain, since I was not in the carriage
with him, but with Janet, Inness, and Baker. Margaret and Lloyd drove
homewards together in the phaeton; and as they did not reach the hotel
until dusk--long after our own arrival--I asked Margaret where they had

"We stopped at the cemetery to watch the sunset beside my statue, aunt."

"Why do you care so much for that marble figure?"

"I do not think she is quite marble," answered Margaret, smiling. "When
I look at her, after a while she becomes, in a certain sense,
responsive. To me she is like a dear friend."

Another week passed, and another. And now the blossoms of the
fruit-trees--a cloud of pink and snowy white--were gone, and the winter
loiterers on the sunny shore began to talk of home; or, if they were
travellers who had but stopped awhile on the way to Italy, they knew now
that the winds of the Apennines no longer chilled the beautiful streets
of Florence, and that all the lilies were out.

"Why could it not go on and on forever? Why must there always come that
last good-bye?" quoted Mrs. Clary.

"Because life is so sad," said Margaret.

"But I like to look forward," said Janet.

"We shall meet again," said Lloyd.

"The world," I remarked, sagely, "is composed of three classes of
persons--those who live in the present, those who live in the past, and
those who live in the future. The first class is the wisest."

[Illustration: VIEW FROM SANT' AGNESE]

Our last excursion was to Sant' Agnese. This little mountain village was
the highest point we attained on our donkeys, being two thousand two
hundred feet above the sea. Its one rugged little street, cut in the
side of the cliff, had an ancient weather-beaten little church at one
end and a lonely chapel at the other, with the village green in the
centre--a "green" which was but a smooth rock amphitheatre, with a
parapet protecting it from the precipice below. From this "green" there
was a grand view of the mountains, with the sharp point of the Aiguille
towering above them all. It was a village fête day, and we met the
little procession at the church door. First came the priests and
choir-boys, chanting; then the village girls, dressed in white, and
bearing upon a little platform an image of Saint Agnes; then youths with
streamers of colored ribbons on their arms; and, last, all the
villagers, two and two, dressed in their best, and carrying bunches of
flowers. Through the winding rocky street they marched, singing as they
went. When they arrived at the lonely chapel, Saint Agnes was borne in,
and prayers were offered, in which the village people joined, kneeling
on the ground outside, since there was not place for them within. Then
forth came Saint Agnes again, a hymn was started, in which all took
part, the little church bell pealed, and an old man touched off small
heaps of gunpowder placed at equal distances along the parapet, their
nearest approach, I suppose, to cannon. When the saint had reached her
shrine again in safety, her journeyings over until the next year, the
procession dissolved, and feasting began, the simple feasting of Italy,
in which we joined so far as to partake of a lunch in the little inn,
which had a green bush as a sign over the narrow door--the "wine of the
country" proving very good, however, in spite of the old proverb. Then,
refreshed, we climbed up the steep path leading to the peak where was
perched the ruin of the old castle which is so conspicuous from Mentone,
high in the air. This castle, the so-called "Saracen stronghold" of
Sant' Agnese, pronounced, as Baker said, "either Frenchy to rhyme with
lace, or Italianly to rhyme with lazy," seemed to me higher up in the
sky than I had ever expected to be in the flesh.

"As our interesting friend" (she meant the Professor) "is not here,"
said Mrs. Trescott, sinking in a breathless condition upon a Saracen
block, "there is no one to tell us its history."

"There is no history," said Verney, "or, rather, no one knows it; and to
me that is its chief attraction. There are, of course, legends in
stacks, but nothing authentic. The Saracens undoubtedly occupied it for
a time, and kept the whole coast below cowering under their cruel sway.
But it is hardly probable that they built it; they did not build so far
inland; they preferred the shore."

Our specified object, of course, in climbing that breathless path was
"the view."

Now there are various ways of seeing views. I have known "views" which
required long gazing at points where there was nothing earthly to be
seen: in such cases there was probably something heavenly. Other "views"
reveal themselves only to two persons at a time; if a third appears,
immediately there is nothing to be seen. As to our own manner of looking
at the Sant' Agnese view, I will mention that Mrs. Trescott looked at it
from a snug corner, on a soft shawl, with her eyes closed. Mrs. Clary
looked at it retrospectively, as it were; she began phrases like these:
"When I was here three years ago--" pause, sigh, full stop. "Once I was
here at sunset--" ditto. Janet, on a remote rock, looked at it, I think,
amid a little tragedy from Inness, interrupted and made more tragic by
the incursions of Baker, who would not be frowned away. Verney looked at
it from a high niche in which he had incautiously seated himself for a
moment, and now remained imprisoned, because Miss Elaine had placed
herself across the entrance so that he could not emerge without asking
her to rise; from this niche, like the tenor of _Trovatore_ in his
tower, he occasionally sent across a Miserere to Janet in the distance,
like this: "Do you ob--serve, Miss Trescott, the col--ors of the
lem--ons below?" And Janet would gesture an assent. Lloyd and Margaret
had found a place on a little projecting plateau, where, with the warm
sunshine flooding over them, they sat contentedly talking. Meanwhile
having neither sleep, retrospect, tragedy, Miserere, nor conversation
with which to entertain myself, I really looked at the view, and
probably was the only person who did. I had time enough for it. We
remained there nearly two hours.


At last our donkey-driver came up to tell us that dancing was going on
below, and that there was not much time if we wished to see it, since
the long homeward journey still lay before us. So we elders began to
call: "Janet!" "Janet!" "Margaret!" "Mr. Verney!" And presently from the
rock, the niche, and the plateau they came slowly in, Janet flushed, and
Inness very pale, Baker like a thunder-cloud, Miss Elaine smiling and
conscious, Verney annoyed, Lloyd just as usual, and Margaret with a
younger look in her face than I had seen there for months. In the little
rock amphitheatre below we found the villagers merrily dancing; and some
strangers like ourselves, who had come out from Mentone later, were
amusing themselves by dancing also. Janet joined the circle with Baker,
and Inness, after leaning on the parapet awhile, with his back to the
dancers, gazing into space, disappeared. I think he went homeward by
another path across the mountains. Miss Elaine admired "so much" Miss
Trescott's courage in dancing before "so many strangers." She (Miss
Elaine) was far "too shy to attempt it." But I did not notice that she
was violently urged to the attempt. In the meantime Lloyd was looking at
an English girl belonging to the other party, who was dancing near us.
She was tall and shapely, with the beautiful English rose-pink
complexion, and abundant light hair which had the glint of bronze where
the sun shone across it. After a while, as the others came near, he
recognized in one of them an acquaintance, who turned out to be the
brother of the young lady who had been dancing.

When, as we returned, we reached the main street of Mentone, Margaret
and I, who were behind, stopped a moment and looked back. The far peak
of Sant' Agnese was flushed with rose-light, although where we were it
was already night.

"It does not seem as if we could have been there," I said. "It looks so
far away."

"Yes, we have been there," said Margaret; "we _have_ been there. But
already it _is_ far, far away."


Mrs. Trescott found a letter awaiting her which made her decide to go
forward to Florence on the following day. A great deal can happen in a
short time when there is the pressure of a near departure. That evening
Janet, who was dressed in white, had a great bunch of the sweet wild
narcissus at her belt. I do not know anything certainly, of course, but
I _did_ meet Inness in the hall, about eleven o'clock, with a radiant,
happy face, and some of that same narcissus in his button-hole. He went
with the Trescott's to Florence the next day. And Baker, with disgust,
went to Nice. Soon afterwards Verney said that he felt that he required
"a closer acquaintance with early art," and departed without saying
exactly whither. "Etruscan art, I believe, is considered extremely
'early,'" remarked Mrs. Clary.

The Professor was to join the Trescotts later; at present he was much
engaged with some cinerary urns. Miss Elaine, who was to remain a month
longer with her mother, remarked to me, on one of the last mornings,
that "really, for his age," he was a "very well preserved man."

Margaret and I remained for two weeks after Mrs. Trescott's departure.
We saw Mr. Lloyd now and then; but he was more frequently off with the
English party.

One afternoon I went with Margaret to watch the sunset from her favorite
post beside the statue. She sought the place almost every evening now,
and occasionally I went with her. We had never found any one there at
that hour; but this evening we heard voices, and came upon Lloyd and the
English girl of Sant' Agnese, strolling to and fro.

"I have brought Miss Read to see the view here, Miss Severin," he said;
and then introductions followed, and we stood there together watching
the beautiful tints of sky and sea. The English girl talked in her
English voice with its little rising and falling inflections, so
different from our monotonous American key. Margaret answered
pleasantly, and, indeed, talked more than usual; I was glad to see her

After a while Lloyd happened to stroll forward where he could see the
face of the statue. Then, suddenly, "Wonderful!" he exclaimed. "Strange
that I never thought of it before! Do come here, please, and see for
yourselves. There is the most extraordinary resemblance between this
statue and Miss Read."

Then, as we all went forward, "Wonderful!" he repeated.

Margaret said not a word. The English girl only laughed. "Surely you
_see_ it?" he said.

"There may be a little something about the mouth--" I began.

But he interrupted me. "Why, it is perfect! The statue is her portrait
in marble. Miss Read, will you not let me place you in the same
position, just for an instant?" And, leading her to a little mound, he
placed her in the required pose; she had thrown off her hat to oblige
him, and now clasped her hands and turned her eyes over the sea towards
the eastern horizon. What was the result?

The only resemblance, as I had said, was about the mouth; for the
beautifully cut lips of the statue turned downward at the corners, and
the curve of Miss Read's sweet baby-like mouth was the same. But that
was all. Above was the woman's face in marble, beautiful, sad, full of
the knowledge and the grief of life; below was the face of a young girl,
lovely, fresh, and bright, and knowing no more of sorrow than a
blush-rose upon its stem.

"Exact!" said Lloyd.

Miss Read laughed, rose, and resumed her straw hat; presently they went


"There was not the slightest resemblance," I said, almost with

"People see resemblances differently," answered Margaret. Then, after a
pause, she added, "She is, at least, much more like the statue than I

"Not in the spirit, dear," I said, much touched; for I saw that as she
spoke the rare tears had filled her eyes. But they did not fall;
Margaret had a great deal of self-control; perhaps too much.

Then there was a silence. "Shall we go now, aunt?" she said, after a
time. And we never spoke of the subject again.

"Look, look, Margaret! the palms of Bordighera!" I said, as our train
rushed past. It was our last of Mentone.




On the wall of the Temple at Denderah.--From a photograph by Sebah,

"The way to Egypt is long and vexatious"--so Homer sings; and so also
have sung other persons more modern. A chopping sea prevails off Crete,
and whether one leaves Europe at Naples, Brindisi, or Athens, one's
steamer soon reaches that beautiful island, and consumes in passing it
an amount of time which is an ever-fresh surprise. Crete, with its long
coast-line and soaring mountain-tops, appears to fill all that part of
the sea. However, as the island is the half-way point between Europe and
Africa, one can at least feel, after finally leaving it behind, that the
Egyptian coast is not far distant. This coast is as indolent as that of
Crete is aggressive; it does not raise its head. You are there before
you see it or know it; and then, if you like, in something over three
hours more you can be in Cairo.

The Cairo street of the last Paris Exhibition, familiar to many
Americans, was a clever imitation. But imitations of the Orient are
melancholy; you cannot transplant the sky and the light.

The real Cairo has been sacrificed to the Nile. Comparatively few among
travellers in the East see the place under the best conditions; for upon
their arrival they are preoccupied with the magical river voyage which
beckons them southward, with the dahabeeyah or the steamer which is to
carry them; and upon their return from that wonderful journey they are
planning for the more difficult expedition to the Holy Land. It is safe
to say that to many Americans Cairo is only a confused memory of donkeys
and dragomans, mosquitoes and dervishes, and mosques, mosques, mosques!
This hard season probably must be gone through by all. The wise are
those who stay on after it is over, or who return; for the true
impression of a place does not come when the mind is overcrowded and
confused; it does not come when the body is wearied; for the descent of
the vision, serenity of soul is necessary--one might even call it
idleness. It is during those days when one does nothing that the reality
steals noiselessly into one's comprehension, to remain there forever.

But is Cairo worth this? is asked. That depends upon the temperament. If
one must have in his nature somewhere a trace of the poet to love
Venice, so one must be at heart something of a painter to love Cairo.
Her colors are so softly rich, the Saracenic part of her architecture is
so fantastically beautiful, the figures in her streets are so
picturesque, that one who has an eye for such effects seems to himself
to be living in a gallery of paintings without frames, which stretch off
in vistas, melting into each other as they go. If, therefore, one loves
color, if pictures are precious to him, are important, let him go to
Cairo; he will find pleasure awaiting him. Flaubert said that one could
imagine the pyramids, and perhaps the Sphinx, without an actual sight of
them, but that what one could not in the least imagine was the
expression on the face of an Oriental barber as he sits cross-legged
before his door. That is Cairo exactly. You must see her with the actual
eyes, and you must see her without haste. She does not reveal herself to
the Cook tourist nor even to Gaze's, nor to the man who is hurrying off
to Athens on a fixed day which nothing can alter.


(One must begin with this, and have it over.) Cairo has a population of
four hundred thousand souls. The new part of the town, called Ismaïlia,
has been persistently abused by almost all writers, who describe it as
dusty, as shadeless, as dreary, as glaring, as hideous, as blankly and
broadly empty, as adorned with half-built houses which are falling into
ruin--one has read all this before arriving. But what does one find in
the year of grace 1890? Streets shaded by innumerable trees; streets
broad indeed, but which, instead of being dusty, are wet (and over-wet)
with the constant watering; well-kept, bright-faced houses, many of them
having beautiful gardens, which in January are glowing with giant
poinsettas, crimson hibiscus, and purple bougainvillea--flowers which
give place to richer blooms, to an almost over-luxuriance of color and
perfumes, as the early spring comes on. If the streets were paved, it
would be like the outlying quarters of Paris, for most of the houses are
French as regards their architecture. Shadeless? It is nothing but
shade. And the principal drives, too, beyond the town--the Ghezireh
road, the Choubra and Gizeh roads, and the long avenue which leads to
the pyramids--are deeply embowered, the great arms of the trees which
border them meeting and interlacing overhead. Consider the stony streets
of Italian cities (which no one abuses), and then talk of "shadeless


If one wishes to spend a part of each day in the house, engaged in
reading, writing, or resting; if the comfortable feeling produced by a
brightly burning little fire in the cool of the evening is necessary to
him for his health or his pleasure--then he should not attempt to spend
the entire winter in the city of the Khedive. The mean temperature there
during the cold season--that is, six weeks in January and February--is
said to be 58° Fahrenheit. But this is in the open air; in the houses
the temperature is not more than 54° or 52°, and often in the evening
lower. The absence of fires makes all the difficulty; for out-of-doors
the air may be and often is charming; but upon coming in from the bright
sunshine the atmosphere of one's sitting-room and bedroom seems chilly
and prison-like. There are, generally speaking, no chimneys in Cairo,
even in the modern quarter. Each of the hotels has one or two open
grates, but only one or two. Southern countries, however, are banded
together--so it seems to the shivering Northerner--to keep up the
delusion that they have no cold weather; as they have it not, why
provide for it? In Italy in the winter the Italians spread rugs over
their floors, hang tapestries upon their walls, pile cushions
everywhere, and carpet their sofas with long-haired skins; this they
call warmth. But a fireless room, with the thermometer on its walls
standing at 35°, is not warm, no matter how many cushions you may put
into it; and one hates to believe, too, that necessary accompaniments
of health are roughened faces and frost-bitten noses, and the extreme
ugliness of hands swollen and red. "Perhaps if one could have in Cairo
an open hearth and three sticks, it would, with all the other pleasures
which one finds here, be too much--would reach wickedness!" was a remark
we heard last winter. A still more forcible exclamation issued from the
lips of a pilgrim from New York one evening in January. Looking round
her sitting-room upon the roses gathered that day in the open air, upon
the fly-brushes and fans and Oriental decorations, this misguided person
moaned, in an almost tearful voice: "Oh, for a blizzard and a _fire_!"
The reasonable traveller, of course, ought to remember that with a
climate which has seven months of debilitating heat, and three and a
half additional months of summer weather, the attention of the natives
is not strongly turned towards devices for warmth. This consideration,
however, does not make the fireless rooms agreeable during the few weeks
that remain.


From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

Another surprise is the rain. "In our time it rained in Egypt," writes
Strabo, as though chronicling a miracle. Either the climate has changed,
or Strabo was not a disciple of the realistic school, for in the January
of this truthful record the rain descended in such a deluge in Cairo
that the water came above the knees of the horses, and a ferry-boat was
established for two days in one of the principal streets. Later the rain
descended a second time with almost equal violence, and showers were by
no means infrequent. (It may be mentioned in parenthesis that there was
heavy rain at Luxor, four hundred and fifty miles south of Cairo, on the
19th of February.) One does not object to these rains; they are in
themselves agreeable; one wishes simply to note the impudence of the
widely diffused statement that Egypt is a rainless land. So far nothing
has been said against the winter climate of Cairo; objection has been
made merely to the fireless condition of the houses--a fault which can
be remedied. But now a real enemy must be mentioned--namely, the kamsin.
This is a hot wind from the south, which parches the skin and takes the
life out of one; it fills the air with a thick grayness, which you
cannot call mist, because it is perfectly dry, and through which the sun
goes on steadily shining, with a light so weird that one can think of
nothing but the feelings of the last man, or the opening of the sixth
seal. The regular kamsin season does not begin before May; the
occasional days of it that bring suffering to travellers occur in
February, March, and April. But what are five or six days of kamsin amid
four winter months whose average temperature is 58° Fahrenheit? It is
human nature to detect faults in climates which have been greatly
praised, just as one counts every freckle on a fair face that is
celebrated for its beauty. Give Cairo a few hearth fires, and its winter
climate will seem delightful; although not so perfect as that of
Florida, in our country, because in Florida there are no January


It must be remembered that Cairo is Arabian. "The Nile is Egypt," says a
proverb. The Nile is mythical, Pharaonic, Ptolemaic; but Cairo owes its
existence solely to the Arabian conquerors of the country, who built a
fortress and palace here in A.D. 969.

Very Arabian is still the call to prayer which is chanted by the
muezzins from the minarets of the mosques several times during the day.
We were passing through a crowded quarter near the Mooski one afternoon
in January, when there was wafted across the consciousness a faint,
sweet sound. It was far away, and one heard it half impatiently at
first, unwilling to lift one's attention even for an instant from the
motley scenes nearer at hand. But at length, teased into it by the very
sweetness, we raised our eyes, and then it was seen that it came from a
half-ruined minaret far above us. Round the narrow outer gallery of this
slender tower a man in dark robes was pacing slowly, his arms
outstretched, his face upturned to heaven. Not once did he look below as
he continued his aerial round, his voice giving forth the chant which we
had heard--"Allah akbar; Allah akbar; la Allah ill' Allah. Heyya
alas-salah!" (God is great; God is great; there is no God but God, and
Mohammed is his prophet. Come to prayer.) Again, another day, in the old
Touloun quarter, we heard the sound, but it was much nearer. It came
from a window but little above our heads, the small mosque within the
quadrangle having no minaret. This time I could note the muezzin
himself. As he could not see the sky from where he stood, his eyes were
closed. I have never beheld a more concentrated expression of devotion
than his quiet face expressed; he might have been miles away from the
throng below, instead of three feet, as his voice gave forth the same
strange, sweet chant. The muezzins are often selected from the ranks of
the blind, as the duties of the office are within their powers; but this
singer at the low window had closed his eyes voluntarily. The last time
I saw the muezzin was towards the end of the season, when the spring was
far advanced. Cairo gayety was at its height, the streets were crowded
with Europeans returning from the races, the new quarter was as modern
as Paris. But there are minarets even in the new quarter, or near it;
and on one of the highest of these turrets, outlined against the glow of
the sunset, I saw the slowly pacing figure, with its arms outstretched
over the city--"Allah akbar; Allah akbar; come, come to prayer."

There are over four hundred mosques in Cairo, and many of them are in a
dilapidated condition. Some of these were erected by private means to
perpetuate the name and good deeds of the founder and his family; then,
in the course of time, owing to the extinction or to the poverty of the
descendants, the endowment fund has been absorbed or turned into another
channel, and the ensuing neglect has ended in ruin. When a pious Muslim
of to-day wishes to perform a good work, he builds a new mosque. It
would never occur to him to repair the old one near at hand, which
commemorates the generosity of another man. It must be remembered that
a mosque has no established congregation, whose duty it is to take care
of it. A mosque, in fact, to Muslims has not an exclusively religious
character. It is a place prepared for prayer, with the fountain which is
necessary for the preceding ablutions required by Mohammed, and the
niche towards Mecca which indicates the position which the suppliant
must take; but it is also a place for meditation and repose. The poorest
and most ragged Muslim has the right to enter whenever he pleases; he
can say his prayers, or he can simply rest; he can quench his thirst; he
can eat the food which he has brought with him; if he is tired, he can
sleep. In mosques not often visited by travellers I have seen men
engaged in mending their clothes, and others cooking food with a
portable furnace. In the church-yard of Charlton Kings, England, there
is a tombstone of the last century with an inscription which concludes
as follows: "And his dieing request to his Sons and Daughters was, Never
forsake the Charitys until the Poor had got their Rites." In the Cairo
mosques the poor have their rites--both with the _gh_ and without. The
sacred character of a mosque is, in truth, only made conspicuous when
unbelievers wish to enter. Then the big shuffling slippers are brought
out to cover the shoes of the Christian infidels, so that they may not
touch and defile the mattings reserved for the faithful.


From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

After long neglect, something is being done at last to arrest the ruin
of the more ancient of these temples. A commission has been appointed by
the present government whose duty is the preservation of the monuments
of Arabian art; occasionally, therefore, in a mosque one finds
scaffolding in place and a general dismantlement. One can only hope for
the best--in much the same spirit in which one hopes when one sees the
beautiful old front of St. Mark's, Venice, gradually encroached upon by
the new raw timbers. But in Cairo, at least, the work of repairing goes
on very slowly; three hundred mosques, probably, out of the four hundred
still remain untouched, and many of these are adorned with a delicate
beauty which is unrivalled. I know no quest so enchanting as a search
through the winding lanes of the old quarters for these gems of
Saracenic taste, which no guide-book has as yet chronicled, no dragoman
discovered. The street is so narrow that your donkey fills almost all
the space; passers-by are obliged to flatten themselves against the
walls in response to the Oriental adjurations of your donkey-boy behind:
"Take heed, O maid!" "Your foot, O chief!" Presently you see a
minaret--there is always a minaret somewhere; but it is not always easy
to find the mosque to which it belongs, hidden, perhaps, as it is,
behind other buildings in the crowded labyrinth. At length you observe a
door with a dab or two of the well-known Saracenic honeycomb-work above
it; instantly you dismount, climb the steps, and look in. You are almost
sure to find treasures, either fragments of the pearly Cairo mosaic, or
a wonderful ceiling, or gilded Kufic (old Arabian text) inscriptions and
arabesques, or remains of the ancient colored glass which changes its
tint hour by hour. Best of all, sometimes you find a space open to the
sky, with a fountain in the centre, the whole surrounded by arcades of
marble columns adorned with hanging lamps (or, rather, with the bronze
chains which once carried the lamps), and with suspended ostrich
eggs--the emblems of good-luck. One day, when my donkey was making his
way through a dilapidated region, I came upon a mosque so small that it
seemed hardly more than a base for its exquisite minaret, which towered
to an unusual height above it. Of course I dismounted. The little mosque
was open; but as it was never visited by strangers, it possessed no
slippers, and without coverings of some kind it was impossible that
unsanctified shoes, such as mine, should touch its matted floor; the
bent, ancient guardian glared at me fiercely for the mere suggestion.
One sees sometimes (even in 1890) in the eyes of old men sitting in the
mosques the original spirit of Islam shining still. Once their religion
commanded the sword; they would like to grasp it again, if they could.
It was suggested that the matting might, for a backsheesh, be rolled up
and put away, as the place was small. But the stern old keeper remained
inflexible. Then the offer was made that so many piasters--ten (that is,
fifty cents)--would be given to the blind. Now the blind are sacred in
Cairo; this offer, therefore, was successful; all the matting was
carefully rolled and stacked in a corner, the three or four Muslims
present withdrew to the door, and the unbeliever was allowed to enter.
She found herself in a temple of color which was incredibly rich. The
floor was of delicate marble, and every inch of the walls was covered
with a mosaic of porphyry and jasper, adorned with gilded inscriptions
and bands of Kufic text; the tall pulpit, made of mahogany-colored wood,
was carved from top to bottom in intricate designs, and ornamented with
odd little plaques of fretted bronze; the sacred niche was lined with
alabaster, turquoise, and gleaming mother-of-pearl; the only light came
through the thick glass of the small windows far above, in
downward-falling rays of crimson, violet, and gold. The old mosaic-work
of the Cairo mosques is composed of small plates of marble and of
mother-of-pearl arranged in geometrical designs; the delicacy of the
minute cubes employed, and the intricacy of the patterns, are
marvellous; the color is faint, unless turquoise has been added; but the
glitter of the mother-of-pearl gives the whole an appearance like that
of jewelry. Upon our departure five blind men were found drawn up in a
line at the door. It would not have been difficult to collect fifty.


Another day, as my donkey was taking me under a stone arch, I saw on one
side a flight of steps which seemed to say "Come!" At the top of the
steps I found a picture. It was a mosque of the early pattern, with a
large square court open to the sky. In the centre of this court was a
well, under a marble dome, and here grew half a dozen palm-trees. Across
the far end extended the sanctuary, which was approached through arcades
of massive pillars painted in dark red bands. The pulpit was so old that
it had lost its beauty; but the entire back wall of this Mecca side
was covered with beautiful tiles of the old Cairo tints (turquoise-blue
and dark blue), in designs of foliage, with here and there an entire
tree. This splendid wall was in itself worth a journey. A few single
tiles had been inserted at random in the great red columns, reminding
one of the majolica plates which tease the eyes of those who care for
such things--set impossibly high as they are--in the campaniles of old
Italian churches along the Pisan coast.

It may be asked, What is the shape of a mosque--its exterior? What is it
like? You are more sure about this shape before you reach the Khedive's
city than you are when you have arrived there; and after you have
visited three or four mosques each day for a week, the clearness of your
original idea, such as it was, has vanished forever. The mosques of
Cairo are so embedded in other structures, so surrounded and pushed and
elbowed by them, that you can see but little of their external form;
sometimes a façade painted in stripes is visible, but often a doorway is
all. One must except the mosque of Sultan Hassan (which, to some of us,
is dangerously like Aristides the Just). This mosque stands by itself,
so that you can, if you please, walk round it. The chief interest of the
walk (for the exterior, save for the deep porch, which can hardly be
called exterior, is not beautiful) lies in the thought that as the walls
were constructed of stones brought from the pyramids, perhaps among
them, with faces turned inward, there may be blocks of that lost outer
coating of the giant tombs--a coating which was covered with
hieroglyphics. Now that hieroglyphics can be read, we may some day learn
the true history of these monuments by pulling down a dozen of the Cairo
mosques. But unless the commission bestirs itself, that task will not be
needed for the edifice of Sultan Hassan; it is coming down, piece by
piece, unaided. The mosques of Cairo are not beautiful as a Greek temple
or an early English cathedral is beautiful; the charm of Saracenic
architecture lies more in decoration than in the management of massive
forms. The genius of the Arabian builders manifested itself in ornament,
in rich effects of color; they had endless caprices, endless fancies,
and expressed them all--as well they might, for all were beautiful. The
same free spirit carved the grotesques of the old churches of France and
Germany. But the Arabians had no love for grotesques; they displayed
their liberty in lovely fantasies. Their one boldness as architects was
the minaret.

It is probably the most graceful tower that has ever been devised. In
Cairo the rich fretwork of its decorations and the soft yellow hue of
the stone of which it is constructed add to this beauty. Invariably
slender, it decreases in size as it springs towards heaven, carrying
lightly with it two or three external galleries, which are supported by
stalactites, and ending in a miniature cupola and crescent. These
stalactites (variously named, also, pendentives, recessed clusters, and
honey-combed work) may be called the distinctive feature of Saracenic
architecture. They were used originally as ornaments to mask the
transition from a square court to the dome. But they soon took flight
from that one service, and now they fill Arabian corners and angles and
support Arabian curves so universally that for many of us the mere
outline of one scribbled on paper brings up the whole pageant of the
crescent-topped domes and towers of the East.

The Cairo mosques are said to show the purest existing forms of
Saracenic architecture. One hopes that this saying is true, for a
dogmatic superlative of this sort is a rock of comfort, and one can
remember it and repeat it. With the best of memories, however, one
cannot intelligently see all these specimens of purity, unless, indeed,
one takes up his residence in Cairo (and it is well known that when one
lives in a place one never pays visits to those lions which other
persons journey thousands of miles to see). Travellers, therefore, very
soon choose a favorite and abide by it, vaunting it above all others, so
that you hear of El Ghouri, with its striking façade and magnificent
ceiling, as "the finest," and of Kalaoon as "the finest," and of Moaiyud
as ditto; not to speak of those who prefer the venerable Touloun and
Amer, and the undiscriminating crowd that is satisfied, and rightly,
with Aristides the Just--that is, the mosque of Sultan Hassan. For
myself, after acknowledging to a weakness for the mosques which are not
in the guide-books, which possess no slippers, I confess that I admire
most the tomb-mosque of Kait Bey. It is outside of Cairo proper, among
those splendid half-ruined structures the so-called tombs of the
Khalifs. It stands by itself, its chiselled dome and minaret, a
lace-work in stone, clearly revealed. It would take pages to describe
the fanciful beauty of every detail, both without and within, and there
must, in any case, come an end of repeating the words "elegance,"
"mosaic," "minaret," "arabesque," "jasper," and "mother-of-pearl." The
chief treasures of this mosque are two blocks of rose granite which bear
the so-called impressions of the feet of Mohammed; the legend is that he
rests here for a moment or two at sunset every Thursday. "How well I
understand this fancy of the prophet!" exclaimed an imaginative visitor.
"How I wish I could do the same!"


One of the great events of the winter of 1890 was the opening of the new
Museum of Egyptian Antiquities at Gizeh. This magnificent collection,
which until recently has been ill-housed at Boulak, is now installed in
another suburb, Gizeh, in one of the large summer palaces built by the
former Khedive, Ismail. To reach it one passes through the new quarter
and crosses the handsome Nile bridge. Not only are all these streets
watered, but the pedestrian also can have water if he likes. Large
earthen jars, propped by framework of wood, stand here and there, with
the drinking-bottle, or kulleh, attached; these jars are replenished by
the sakkahs, who carry the much-loved Nile water about the streets for
sale. One passes at regular intervals the light stands, made of split
sticks, upon which is offered for sale, in flat loaves like pancakes,
the Cairo bread. There are also the open-air cook shops--small furnaces,
like a tin pan with legs; spread out on a board before them are saucers
containing mysterious compounds, and the cook is in attendance, wearing
a white apron. These cooks never lack custom; a large majority of the
poorer class in Cairo obtains its hot food, when it obtains it at all,
at these impromptu tables. Before long one is sure to meet a file of
camels. The camel ought to appreciate travellers; there is always a
tourist murmuring "Oh!" whenever one of these supercilious beasts shows
himself near the Ezbekiyeh Gardens. The American, indeed, cannot keep
back the exclamation; perhaps when he was a child he attended (oh, happy
day!) the circus, and watched with ecstasy the "Grande Orientale Rentrée
of the Lights of the Harem"--two of these strange steeds, ridden by
dazzling houris in veils of glittering gauze. The camel has remained in
his mind ever since as the attendant of sultanas; though this impression
may have become mixed in later years with the constantly recurring
painting (in a dead-gold frame and red mat) of a camel and an Arab in
the desert, outlined against a sunset sky. In either case, however,
the animal represents something which is as far as possible from an
American street traversed by horse-cars, and when the inhabitant of this
street sees the identical creature passing him, engaged not in making
rentrées or posing against the sunset, but diligently at work carrying
stones and mortar for his living, no wonder he feels that he has reached
a land of dreams.

[Illustration: A SELLER OF WATER-JUGS, CAIRO. From a photograph by
Sebah, Cairo]

Most of us do not lose our admiration for the Orientalness of the camel.
But we learn in time that he has been praised for qualities which he
does not possess. He is industrious, but he continually scolds about his
industry; he may not trouble one with his thirst, but he revenges
himself by his sneer. The smile of a camel is the most disdainful thing
I know. On the other side of the Nile bridge one comes sometimes upon an
acre of these beasts, all kneeling down in the extraordinary way
peculiar to them, with their hind-legs turned up; here they chew as they
rest, and put out their long necks to look at the passers-by. But the
way to appreciate the neck of a camel is to be on a donkey; then, when
the creature comes up behind and lopes past you, his neck seems to be
the highest thing in Cairo--higher than a mosque.

Beyond the bridge the road to Gizeh follows the river. Gizeh itself is
the typical Nile village, with the low, clustered houses built of Nile
mud (which looks like yellow-brown stucco), and beautiful feathery palms
with a minaret or two rising above. The palace stands apart from the
village, and is surrounded by large gardens. Opposite the central
portico is the tomb of Mariette Pasha, the founder of the museum--a high
sarcophagus designed from an antique model. Mariette Pasha (it may be
mentioned here that the title Pasha means General, and that of Bey,
Colonel) was a native of Boulogne. A mummy case in the museum of that
town of schools first attracted his attention towards Egyptian
antiquities, and in 1850 he came to Egypt. Khedive Said authorized him
to found a museum; and Said's successor, Ismail, conferred upon him the
exclusive right to make excavations, placing in his charge all the
antiquities of Egypt. Mariette used these powers with intelligence and
energy, giving the rest of his life to the task--a period of thirty
years. He died in Cairo, at the age of sixty-one, in January, 1882. This
Frenchman made many important discoveries, and he preserved to Egypt her
remaining antiquities; before his time her treasures had been stolen and
bought by all the world. A thought which haunts all travellers in this
strange country is, how many more rich stores must still remain hidden!
The most generally interesting among the recent discoveries was the
finding of the Pharaohs, in 1881. The story has been given to the world
in print, therefore it will be only outlined here. But by far the most
fortunate way is to hear it directly from the lips of the keeper of the
museum, Emil Brugsch Bey himself, his vivid, briefly direct narration
adding the last charm to the striking facts. By the museum authorities
it had been for several years suspected that some one at Luxor (Thebes)
had discovered a hitherto unopened tomb; for funeral statuettes, papyri,
and other objects, all of importance, were offered for sale there, one
by one, and bought by travellers, who, upon their return to Cairo,
displayed the treasures, without comprehending their value. Watch was
kept, and suspicion finally centred upon a family of brothers; these
Arabs at last confessed, and one of them led the way to a place not far
from the temple called Deir-el-Bahari, which all visitors to Thebes will
remember. Here, filled with sand, there was a shaft not unlike a well,
which the man had discovered by chance. When the sand was removed, the
opening of a lateral tunnel was visible below, and this tunnel led into
the heart of the hill, where, in a rude chamber twenty feet high, were
piled thirty or more mummy cases, most of them decorated with the royal
asp. The mummies proved to be those of Sethi the First, the conqueror
who carried his armies as far into Asia as the Orontes; and of Rameses
the Great (called Sesostris by the Greeks), the Pharaoh who oppressed
the Israelites; and of Sethi the Second, the Pharaoh of the Exodus,
together with other sovereigns and members of their families, princes,
princesses, and priests. At some unknown period these mummies had been
taken from the magnificent rock tombs in that terrible Apocalyptic
Valley of the Kings, not far distant, and hidden in this rough chamber.
No one knows why this was done; a record of it may yet be discovered.
But in time all knowledge of the hiding-place was lost, and here the
Pharaohs remained until that July day in 1881. They were all transported
across the burning plain and down the Nile to Cairo. Now at last they
repose in state in an apartment which might well be called a
throne-room. You reach this great cruciform hall by a handsome double
stairway; upon entering, you see the Pharaohs ranged in a majestic
circle, and careless though you may be, unhistorical, practical, you are
impressed. The features are distinct. Some of the dark faces have
dignity; others show marked resolution and power. Curiously enough, one
of them closely resembles Voltaire. This, however, is probably due to
the fact that Voltaire closely resembled a mummy while living. How would
it seem, the thought that beings who are to come into existence A.D.
5000 should be able, in the land which we now call the United States of
America (what will it be called then?), to gaze upon the features of
some of our Presidents--for instance, George Washington and Abraham
Lincoln? I am afraid that the fancy is not as striking as it should be,
for New World ambition grasps without difficulty all futures, even A.D.
25,000; it is only when our eyes are turned towards the past, where we
have no importance and represent nothing, that an enumeration of
centuries overpowers us--a little. But in any case, after visiting
Egypt, we all learn to hate the art of the embalmer; those who have been
up the Nile, and beheld the poor relics of mortality offered for sale on
the shores, become, as it were by force, advocates of cremation.


Gizeh Museum.--Discovered in 1870 in a tomb near Meydoom.--According to
the chronological table of Mariette, it is 5800 years old.--From a
photograph by Sebah, Cairo.


The Gizeh Museum is vast; days are required to see all its treasures.
Among the best of these are two colored statues, the size of life,
representing Prince Rahotep and his wife; these were discovered in 1870
in a tomb near Meydoom. Their rock-crystal eyes are so bright that the
Arabs employed in the excavation fled in terror when they came upon the
long-hidden chamber. They said that two afreets were sitting there,
ready to spring out and devour all intruders. Railed in from his
admirers is the intelligent, well-fed, highly popular wooden man, whose
life-like expression raises a smile upon the faces of all who approach
him. This figure is not in the least like the Egyptian statues of
conventional type, with unnaturally placed eyes. As regards the head, it
might be the likeness of a Berlin merchant of to-day, or it might be a
successful American bank president after a series of dinners at
Delmonico's. Yet, strange to say, this, and the wonderful diorite statue
of Chafra, are the oldest sculptured figures in the world.

One is tempted to describe some of the other treasures of this precious
and unrivalled collection, as well as to note in detail the odd
contrasts between Ismail's gayly flowered walls and the solemn
antiquities ranged below them. "But here is no space," as Lady Mary
Wortley Montagu would have expressed it. And one of the curious facts
concerning description is that those who have with their own eyes seen
the statue, for instance, which is the subject of a writer's pen (and it
is the same with regard to a landscape, or a country, or whatever you
please)--such persons sometimes like to read an account of it, though
the words are not needed to bring up the true image of the thing
delineated, whereas those who have never seen the statue--that is, the
vast majority--are, as a general rule, not in the least interested in
any description of it, long or short, and, indeed, consider all such
descriptions a bore.

At present the one fault of Gizeh is the absence of a catalogue. But
catalogues are a mysterious subject, comprehended only by the elect.

[Illustration: THE WOODEN MAN

Gizeh Museum, near Cairo.--According to the chronological table of
Marlette, this statue is over 6000 years old.--From a photograph by
Brugsch Bey]

One day when I was passing the hot hours in the shaded rooms of the
museum, surrounded by seated granite figures with their hands on their
knees (the coolest companions I know), I heard chattering and laughter.
These are unusual sounds in those echoing halls, where unconsciously
everybody whispers, partly because of the echo, and partly also, I
think, on account of the mystic mummy cases which stand on end and look
at one so queerly with their oblique eyes. Presently there came into
view ten or twelve Cairo ladies, followed by eunuchs, and preceded by a
guide. The eunuchs were (as eunuchs generally are) hideous, though they
represented all ages, from a tall lank boy of seventeen to a withered
old creature well beyond sixty. The Cairo eunuchs are negroes; one
distinguishes them always by the extreme care with which they are
dressed. They wear coats and trousers of black broadcloth made in the
latest European style, with patent-leather shoes, and they are decorated
with gold chains, seal rings, and scarf-pins; they have one merit as
regards their appearance--I know of but one--they do look clean. The
ladies were taking their ease; the muffling black silk outer cloaks,
which all Egyptian women of the upper class wear when they leave the
house, had been thrown aside; the white face veils had been loosened so
that they dropped below the chin. It was the hareem of the Minister for
Foreign Affairs; their carriages were waiting below. The most modest of
men--a missionary, for instance, or an entomologist--would, I suppose,
have put them to flight; but as the tourist season was over, and as it
was luncheon-time for Europeans, no one appeared but myself, and the
ladies strayed hither and thither as they chose, occasionally stopping
to hear a few words of the explanations which the guide (a woman also)
was vainly trying to give before each important statue. With one
exception, these Cairo dames were, to say the least, extremely plump;
their bare hands were deeply dimpled, their cheeks round. They all
had the same very white complexion without rose tints; their features
were fairly good, though rather thick; the eyes in each case were
beautiful--large, dark, lustrous, with sweeping lashes. Their figures,
under their loose garments, looked like feather pillows. They were
awkward in bearing and gait, but this might have been owing to the fact
that their small plump feet (in white open-work cotton stockings) were
squeezed into very tight French slippers with abnormally high heels,
upon which it must have been difficult to balance so many dimples. The
one exception to the rule of billowy beauty was a slender, even meagrely
formed girl, who in America would pass perhaps for seventeen; probably
she was three years younger. Her thin, dark, restless face, with its
beautiful inquiring eyes, was several times close beside mine as we both
inspected the golden bracelets and ear-rings, the necklaces and fan, of
Queen Ahhotpu, our sister in vanity of three thousand five hundred years
ago. I looked more at her than I did at the jewels, and she returned my
gaze; we might have had a conversation. What would I not have given to
have been able to talk with her in her own tongue! After a while they
all assembled in what is called the winter garden, an up-stairs
apartment, where grass grows over the floor in formal little plots.
Chairs were brought, and they seated themselves amid this aerial verdure
to partake of sherbet, which the youngest eunuch handed about with a
business-like air. While they were still here, much relaxed as regards
attire and attitude, my attention was attracted by the rush through the
outer room (where I myself was seated) of the four older eunuchs. They
had been idling about; they had even gone down the stairs, leaving to
the youngest of their number the task of serving the sherbet; but now
they all appeared again, and the swiftness with which they crossed the
outer room and dashed into the winter-garden created a breeze. They
called to their charges as they came, and there was a general smoothing
down of draperies. The eunuchs, however, stood upon no ceremony; they
themselves attired the ladies in the muffling cloaks, and refastened
their veils securely, as a nurse dresses children, and with quite as
much authority. I noticed that the handsomer faces showed no especial
haste to disappear from view; but there was no real resistance; there
was only a good deal of laughter.

I dare say that there was more laughter still (under the veils) when the
cause of all this haste appeared, coming slowly up the stairs. It was a
small man of sixty-five or seventy, one of my own countrymen, attired in
a linen duster and a travel-worn high hat; his silver-haired head was
bent over his guide-book, and he wore blue spectacles. I don't think he
saw anything but blue antiquities, safely made of stone.

Hareem carriages (that is, ladies' carriages) in Cairo are large,
heavily built broughams. The occupants wear thin white muslin or white
tulle veils tied across the face under the eyes, with an upper band of
the same material across the forehead; but these veils do not in reality
hide the features much more closely than do the dotted black or white
lace veils worn by Europeans. The muffling outer draperies, however,
completely conceal the figure, and this makes the marked difference
between them and their English, French, and American sisters in the
other carriages near at hand. On the box of the brougham, with the
coachman, the eunuch takes his place. To go out without a eunuch would
be a humiliation for a Cairo wife; to her view, it would seem to say
that she is not sufficiently attractive to require a guardian. The
hareem carriage of a man of importance has not only its eunuch, but also
its sais, or running footman; often two of them. These winged creatures
precede the carriage; no matter how rapid the pace of the horses, they
are always in advance, carrying, lightly poised in one hand, high in the
air, a long lance-like wand. Their gait is the most beautiful motion I
have ever seen. The Mercury of John of Bologna; the younger gods of
Olympus--will these do for comparisons? One calls the sais winged not
only because of his speed, but also on account of his large white
sleeves (in English, angel sleeves), which, though lightly caught
together behind, float out on each side as he runs, like actual wings.
His costume is rich--a short velvet jacket thickly embroidered with
gold; a red cap with long silken tassel; full white trousers which end
at the knee, leaving the legs and feet bare; and a brilliant scarf
encircling the small waist. These men are Nubians, and are admirably
formed; often they are very handsome. Naturally one never sees an old
one, and it is said that they die young. Their original office was to
clear a passage for the carriage through the narrow, crowded streets;
now that the streets are broader, they are not so frequently seen,
though Egyptians of rank still employ them, not only for their hareem
carriages, but for their own. They are occasionally seen, also, before
the victoria or the landau of European residents; but in this case their
Oriental dress accords ill with the stiff, tight Parisian costumes
behind them. Now and then one sees them perched on the back seat of an
English dog-cart, and here they look well; they always sit sidewise,
with one hand on the back of the seat, as though ready at a moment's
notice to spring out and begin flying again.

If the figures of the Cairo ladies are always well muffled, one has at
least abundant opportunity to admire the grace and strength of the women
of the working classes. When young they have a noble bearing. Their
usual dress is a long gown of very dark blue cotton, a black head veil,
and a thick black face veil that is kept in its place below the eyes by
a gilded ornament which looks like an empty spool. Often their
beautifully shaped slender feet are bare; but even the poorest are
decked with anklets, bracelets, and necklaces of beads, imitation silver
or brass. The men of the working classes wear blue gowns also, but the
blue is of a much lighter hue; many of them, especially the farmers and
farm laborers (called fellaheen), have wonderfully straight flat backs
and broad, strong shoulders. Europeans, when walking, appear at a great
disadvantage beside these loosely robed people; all their movements seem
cramped when compared with the free, effortless step of the Arab beside


One spends half one's time in the bazaars, perhaps. One admires them and
adores them; but one feels that their attraction cannot be made clear to
others by words. Nor can it be by the camera. There are a thousand
photographic views of Cairo offered for sale, but, with the exception of
an attempt at the gateway of the Khan Khaleel, not one copy of these
labyrinths, which is a significant fact. Their charm comes from color,
and this can be represented by the painter's brush alone. But even the
painter can render it only in bits. From a selfish point of view we
might perhaps be glad that there is one spot left on this earth whose
characteristic aspect cannot be reproduced, either upon the wall or the
pictured page, whose shimmering vistas must remain a purely personal
memory. We can say to those who have in their minds the same fantastic
vision, "Ah, _you_ know!" But we cannot make others know. For what is
the use of declaring that a collection of winding lanes, some of them
not more than three feet broad, opening into and leading out of each
other, unpaved, dirty, roofed far above, where the high stone houses
end, with a lattice-work of old mats--what is the use of declaring that
this maze is one of the most delightful places in the world? There is no
use; one must see it to believe it.

[Illustration: AN EGYPTIAN WOMAN

From a photograph by Abdullah Frères, Cairo]

We approach the bazaars by the Mooski, a street which has lost all its
ancient attraction--which is, in fact, one of the most commonplace
avenues I know. But near its end the enchantment begins, and whether we
enter the flag bazaar, the lemon-colored-slipper bazaar, the
gold-and-silver bazaar, the bazaar of the Soudan, the bazaar of silks
and embroideries, the bazaar of Turkish carpets, or the lane of perfumes
felicitously named by the donkey-boys the smell bazaar, we are soon in
the condition of children before a magician's table. I defy any one to
resist it. The most tired American business man looks about him with
awakened interest, the lines of his face relax and turn into the
wrinkles we associate with laughter, as he sees the small, frontless
shops, the long-skirted merchants, and the sewing, embroidering,
cross-legged crowd. The best way, indeed, to view the bazaars is to
relax--to relax your ideas of time as well as of pace, and not be in a
hurry about anything. Accompany some one who is buying, but do not buy
yourself; then you can have a seat on the divan, and even (as a friend
of the purchaser) one of those wee cups of black coffee which the
merchant offers, and which, whether you like it or not, you take,
because it belongs to the scene. Thus seated, you can look about at your

In these days, when every one is rereading the _Arabian Nights_, the
learned in Burton's translation, the outside public in Lady Burton's,
even the most unmethodical of writers feels himself, in connection with
Cairo, forced towards the inevitable allusion to Haroun. But once within
the precincts of the Khan Khaleel, he does not need to have his fancy
jogged by Burton or any one else; he thinks of the _Arabian Nights_
instinctively, and "it's a poor tale," indeed, to quote Mrs. Poyser, if
he does not meet the one-eyed calendar in the very first booth. But, as
has already been said, it is useless to describe. All one can do is to
set down a few impressions. One of the first of these is the charming
light. The sunshine of Egypt has a great radiance, but it has also--and
this is especially visible when one looks across any breadth of
landscape--a pleasant quality of softness; it is a radiance which is
slightly hazy and slightly golden brown, being in these respects quite
unlike the pellucid white light of Greece. The Greeks frown; even the
youngest of the handsome men who go about in ballet-like white
petticoats and the brimless cap, has the ugly little perpendicular line
between the eyes, produced by a constant knitting of the brows. Like the
Greek, the Egyptian also is without protection for his eyes; the
dragoman wears a small shawl over the fez, which covers the back of the
neck and sides of the face, the Bedouins have a hood, but the large
majority of the natives are unprotected. It is said that a Mohammedan
can have no brim to his turban or tarboosh, because he must place his
bare forehead upon the ground when he says his prayers, and this without
removing his head-gear (which would be irreverent). However this may be,
he goes about in Egypt with the sun in his eyes, though, owing to the
softer quality of the light, he does not frown as the Greek frowns. For
those who are not Egyptians, however, the light in Cairo sometimes seems
too omnipresent; then, for refuge, they can go to the bazaars. The
sunshine is here cut off horizontally by thick walls, and from above it
is filtered through mats, whose many interstices cause a checker of
light and shade in an infinite variety of unexpected patterns on the
ground. This ground is watered. Somehow the air is cool; coming in from
the bright streets outside is like entering an arbor. The little shops
resemble cupboards; their floors are about three feet above the street.
They have no doors at the back. When the merchant wishes to close his
establishment, he comes out, pulls down the lid, locks it, and goes
home. A picturesque characteristic is that in many cases the wares are
simply sold here; they are also made, one by one, upon the spot. You can
see the brass-workers incising the arabesques of their trays; you can
see the armorers making arms, the ribbon-makers making ribbons, the
jewellers blowing their forges, the ivory-carvers bending over their
delicate task. As soon as each article is finished, it is dusted and
placed upon the little shelf above, and then the apprentice sets to work
upon a new one. In addition to the light, another thing one notices is
the amazing way in which the feet are used. In Cairo one soon becomes as
familiar with feet as one is elsewhere with hands; it is not merely that
they are bare; it is that the toes appear to be prehensile, like
fingers. In the bazaars the embroiderers hold their cloth with their
toes; the slipper-makers, the flag-cutters, the brass-workers, the
goldsmiths, employ their second set of fingers almost as much as they
employ the first. Both the hands and feet of these men are well formed,
slender, and delicate, and, by the rules of their religion, they are
bathed five times each day.

Mosques are near where they can get water for this duty. For the bazaars
are not continuous rows of shops: one comes not infrequently upon the
ornamental portal of an old Arabian dwelling-house, upon the forgotten
tomb of a sheykh, with its low dome; one passes under stone arches;
often one sees the doorway of a mosque. Humble-minded dogs, who look
like jackals, prowl about. The populace trudges through the narrow
lanes, munching sugar-cane whenever it can get it. Another favorite food
is the lettuce-plant; but the leaves, which we use for salad, the
Egyptians throw away; it is the stalk that attracts them.

Lettuce-stalks are not rich food, but the bazaars of the people who eat
them convey, on the whole, an impression of richness; this is owing to
the sumptuousness of the prayer carpets, the gold embroideries, the
gleaming silks, the Oriental brass-work with sentences from the Koran,
the ivory, the ostrich plumes, the little silver bottles for kohl, the
inlaid daggers, the turquoises and pearls, and the beautiful gauzes, a
few of them embroidered with the motto, "I do this work for you," and on
the reverse side, "And this I do for God." To some persons, the
far-penetrating mystic sweetness from the perfume bazaar adds an element
also. Here sit the Persian merchants in their delicate silken robes;
they weigh incense on tiny scales; they sort the gold-embossed vials of
attar of roses; their taper fingers move about amid whimsically small
cabinets and chests of drawers filled with ambrosial mysteries. There is
magic in names; these merchants are doubly interesting because they come
from Ispahan! Scanderoun--there is another; how it rolls off the tongue!
We do not wish for exact geographical descriptions of these places; that
would spoil all. We wish to chant, like Kit Marlowe's Tamburlaine (and
with similar indefiniteness):

    "Is it not passing brave to be a king,
    And march in triumph through Persepolis?"

    "So will I ride through Samarcanda streets,
    ... to Babylon, my lords; to Babylon!"


From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

When we leave Cairo we cannot take with us the light of these
labyrinths; we cannot take their colors; but one traveller, last May,
having found in an antiquity-shop an ancient perfume-burner, had the
inspiration of bargaining with these Persians, seated cross-legged in
their aromatic niches (said traveller on a white donkey outside), for
small packages of sandal and aloes wood, of myrrh, of frankincense and
ambergris, of benzoin, of dried rose leaves, and of other Oriental twigs
and sticks, for the purpose of summing up, later, and in less congenial
climes perhaps, the spicy atmosphere, at least, of the Cairo bazaars.
What would be the effect of breathing always this fragrant air? Would it
give a richer life, would it tinge the cheek with warmer hues? These
merchants have complexions like cream-tinted tea-roses; their dark eyes
are clear, and all their movements graceful; they are very tranquil, but
not in the least sleepy; they look as if they could take part in subtle
arguments, and pursue the finest chains of reasoning. Would an
atmosphere perfumed by these Eastern woods clarify and rarefy our denser
Occidental minds?


As every one who comes to Cairo goes up the Nile, the river is seldom
thought of as it appears during its course past the Khedive's city. This
simple vision of it is overshadowed by memories of Abydos, of Karnak and
Thebes, and Philæ--the great temples on its banks which have impressed
one so profoundly. Perhaps they have over-impressed; possibly the
tension of continuous gazing has been kept up too long. In this case the
victim, with his head in his hands, is ready to echo the (extremely
true) exclamation of Dudley Warner, "There is nothing on earth so
tiresome as a row of stone gods standing to receive the offerings of a
Turveydrop of a king!" This was the mental condition of a lady who last
winter, on a Nile boat, suddenly began to sew. "I have spent nine long
days on this boat, staring from morning till night. One cannot stare at
a river forever, even if it _is_ the Nile! Give me my thimble."

One is not obliged to leave Cairo in order to see examples of the
smaller silhouettes of the great river--the shadoofs or irrigating
machines, the rows of palm-trees, the lateen yards clustered near a
port, and always and forever the women coming down the bank to get water
from the yellow tide. These processions of women are the most
characteristic "Nile scene with figures" of the present day. I am not
sure but that one of their jars, or the smaller gray kulleh (which by
evaporation keeps the water deliciously cool), would evoke "Egypt" more
quickly in the minds of most of us than even the portrait of Cleopatra
herself on the back wall at Denderah. If one is staying in Cairo after
the tremendous voyage is over, one wanders to the banks every now and
then to gaze anew at the broad, monotonous stream. It comes from the
last remaining unknown territory of our star, and this very year has
seen that space grow smaller. Round about it stand to-day five or six of
the civilized nations, who have formed a battue, and are driving in the
game. The old river had a secret, one of the three secrets of the world;
but though the North and South Poles still remain unmapped, the annual
rise of its waters will be strange no longer when Lado is a second
Birmingham. How will it seem when we can telephone to Sennaar (perhaps
to that ambassador beloved by readers of the Easy Chair), or when there
is early closing in Darfur?

[Illustration: THE DOCK AT OLD CAIRO

From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

At Cairo, when one rides or drives, one almost always crosses the Nile;
but Cairo herself does not cross. Her more closely built quarters do not
even come down to the shore. The Nile and Cairo are two distinct
personalities; they are not one and indivisible, as the Nile and Thebes
are one, the Nile and Philæ.

The river at Cairo has a dull appearance. Its only beauty comes from the
towering snow-white sails of the dahabeeyahs and trading craft that
crowd the stream. It is true that these have a great charm.


In the old quarters this is Arabian. The beauty lies largely in the
latticed balconies called mouchrabiyehs, which overhang the narrow
roadways. These bay-windows sometimes stud the façades thickly, now
large, now small, but always a fretwork of delicate wood-carving. Often
from the bay projects a second and smaller oriel, also latticed. This is
the place for the water jar, the current of air through the lattices
keeping the water cool. An Arabian house has no windows on the
ground-floor in its outer wall save small air-holes placed very high,
but above are these mouchrabiyehs, which are made of bits of cedar
elaborately carved in geometrical designs. The small size of the pieces
is due to the climate, the heats of the long summer would warp larger
surfaces of wood; but the delicacy and intricacy of the carving are a
work of supererogation due to Arabian taste. From the mouchrabiyehs the
inmates can see the passers-by, but the passers-by cannot see the
inmates, an essential condition for the carefully guarded privacy of the

There is in Cairo a personage unconnected with the government who, among
the native population, is almost as important as the Khedive himself;
this is the Sheykh Ahmed Mohammed es Sadat, the only descendant in the
direct line of the Prophet Mohammed now living. He has the right to many
native titles, though he does not put them on his quiet little
visiting-card, which bears only his name and a mysterious monogram in
Arabic. By Europeans he is called simply the Sheykh (the word means
chief) es Sadat. The ancestral dwelling of the sheykh shares in its
master's distinction. It is pointed out, and, when permission can be
obtained, visited. It is a typical specimen of Saracenic domestic
architecture, and has always remained in the possession of the family,
for whom it was first erected eight hundred years ago. There are in
Cairo other Arabian houses as beautiful and as ancient as this. By
diplomatic (and mercenary) arts I gained admittance to three, one of
which has walls studded with jasper and mother-of-pearl. But these
exquisite chambers, being half ruined, fill the mind with wicked
temptations. One longs to lay hands upon the tiles, to bargain for an
inscription or for a small oriel with the furtive occupants, who have no
right to sell, the real owners being Arabs of ancient race, who would
refuse to strip their walls, however crumbling, for unbelievers from
contemptible, paltry lands beyond the sea. The house of the Sheykh es
Sadat may not leave one tranquil, for it is tantalizingly picturesque,
but at least it does not inspire larceny; the presence of many servitors
prevents that. To reach this residence one leaves (gladly) the Boulevard
Mohammed Ali, and takes a narrower thoroughfare, the Street of the
Sycamores, which bends towards the south. This lane winds as it goes,
following the course of the old canal, the Khaleeg, and one passes many
of the public fountains, or sebeels, which are almost as numerous in
Cairo as the mosques. A fountain in Arab signification does not mean a
jet of water, but simply a place where water can be obtained. The
sebeels are beautiful structures, often having marble walls, a dome, and
the richest kind of ornament. The water is either dipped with a cup from
the basin within, or drawn from the brass mouth-pieces placed
outside. Nothing could represent better, I think, the difference between
the East and the West than one of these elaborate fountains, covering,
in a crowded quarter, the space which might have been occupied by two or
three small houses, adorned with carved stone-work, slabs of porphyry,
and long inscriptions in gilt, and an iron town pump, its erect
slenderness taking up no space at all, and its excellent if unbeautiful
handle standing straight out against the sky.


A narrow lane, leaving the Street of the Sycamores, burrows still more
deeply into the heart of the quarter, and at last brings us to a porch
which juts into the roadway, masking, as is usual in Cairo, the real
doorway, which is within. Upon entering, one finds himself in a
quadrilateral court, which is open to the sky. An old sycamore shades
several latticed windows, among them one which contains three of the
smaller oriels; this portion of the second story rests upon an antique
marble column. On one side of the column is the low, rough archway
leading to the porch; on the other, the high decorated marble entrance
of the reception-hall. For in Arabian houses all the magnificence is
kept for the interior. In the streets one sees only plain stone walls,
which are often hidden under a stucco of mud, more or less peeled off,
so that they look half ruined. In the old quarters of Cairo, among the
private houses, one obtains, indeed (unless one has an invitation to
enter), a general impression of ruin. At the back of the sheykh's court
is the stairway to the hareem, the entrance masked by a gayly colored
curtain. Across another side extends the private mosque, only half
hidden by an ornamented grating. One can see the interior and the high
pulpit decked with the green flag of the Prophet. The walls which
encircle the court, and which are embellished here and there with Arabic
inscriptions, are of differing heights, as they form parts of separate
structures which have been erected at various periods through the eight
centuries. The place is, in fact, an agglomeration of houses, and some
of the older chambers are crumbling and roofless. The central court
(which shows its age only in a picturesque trace or two) is adorned with
at least twenty beautiful mouchrabiyehs, some large, some small, and no
two on the same level. A charm of Saracenic architecture is that you can
always make discoveries, nothing is stereotyped; of a dozen delicate
rosettes standing side by side under a balcony, no two are carved in the
same design.


From a photograph by Abdullah Frères, Cairo]

In a room which stretches back to the garden--and which at the time of
our visit was empty, save for a row of antique silver-gilt coffee-pots
standing on the marble floor--there is a long, low window, like a band
in the wall, formed of small carved lattices. The hand of Abbey only, I
think, could reproduce the beauty of this casement; but instead of the
charming seventeenth-century English girls whom he would wish to place
there, realism would demand the hideous eunuchs, with their gold chains
and scarf-pins; or else (and this would be better) the dignified old
Arab in a white turban who sat cross-legged in the court with his long
pipe, his half-closed eyes expressing his disdain for the American
visitors. The courtesy of the master of the house, however, made up for
his servitor's scorn. The sheykh is a tall man, somewhat too portly,
with amiable dark eyes, and a gleam of humor in his face. One scans his
features with interest, as if to catch some reflection of the Prophet;
but the rays from an ancestor who walked the earth twelve hundred years
ago are presumably faint. There is nothing modern in the sheykh's
attire; his handsome flowing gown is of silk; he wears a turban,
slippers, and an India shawl wound round his waist like a sash. When the
air is cool, he shrouds himself in a large outer cloak of fine dark
blue cloth, which is lined with white fur. Sometimes Signor Ahmed
carries in his hand the Mohammedan rosary. This string of beads appears
to be used as Madame de Staël used her "little stick," as the English
called it (in Italy, more poetically, they named it "a twig of laurel").
Corrinne must always have this beside her plate at dinner to play with
before she conversed, or rather declaimed. Her maid, in confidence,
explained that it was necessary to madame "to stimulate her ideas." One
often sees the rosary on duty when two Turks are conversing. After a
while, their subjects failing them, they fall into silence. Then each
draws out his string from a pocket, and they play with their beads for a
moment or two, until, inspiration reviving, they begin talking again.
One hopes that poor Ahmed Mohammed has not been driven to his string too
often as mental support during dumb visits from Anglo-Saxon tourists,
who can do nothing but stare at him. The sheykh's reception-hall is
forty feet wide and sixty feet long. The ceiling, which has the
Saracenic pendentives in the corners and under the beams, is of wood,
gilded and painted and carved in the characteristic style which one
vainly tries to describe. Travellers have likened it to an India shawl;
to me it seemed to approach more nearly the wrong side of a Persian
scarf, which shows the many-hued silken ravellings. The effect, as a
whole, though extraordinarily rich, is yet subdued. The walls are
encrusted with old blue tiles which mount to the top. At one end of the
room there is a beautiful wall-fountain. And now comes the other side of
the story. To enjoy all this beauty, you must not look down; for, alas!
the marble floor is tightly covered with a modern French carpet; chairs
and tables of the most ordinary modern designs have taken the place of
the old divans; and these tables, furthermore, are ornamented with
hideous bouquets of artificial flowers under glass. Finally, the tiles
which have fallen from the lower part of the walls have not been
replaced by others; a coarse fresco has been substituted. What would not
one give to see the sheykh, who is himself a purely Oriental figure,
seated in this splendid hall of his fathers as it once was, on one of
the now superseded divans, the marbles of his floor uncovered save for
his discarded Turkish rugs, the fountain sending forth its rose-water
spray, perfume burning in the silver receivers, and no encumbering
furniture save piles of brocaded cushions and a jar or two on the gilded

But we shall never see this. In 1889, 180,594 travellers crossed Egypt
by way of the Suez Canal. In this item of statistics we have the reason.


For those who have fair eyesight the pyramids of Gizeh are a part of
Cairo; their gray triangles against the sky are visible from so many
points that they soon become as familiar as a neighboring hill. In
addition, they have been pictured to us so constantly in paintings,
drawings, engravings, and photographs that one views them at first more
with recognition than surprise. "There they are! How natural!" And this
long familiarity makes one shrink from arranging phrases about them.

One thing, however, can be said: when we are in actual fact under them,
when we can touch them, our easy acquaintance vanishes, and we suddenly
perceive that we have never comprehended them in the least. The strange
geometrical walls effect a spiritual change in us; they free us from
ourselves for a moment, and unconsciously we look back across the past
to which they belong, and into the future, of which they are a part
much more than we are, as unmindful of our own little cares and
occupations, and even our own small lives, as though we had never been
chained to them. It is but a fleeting second, perhaps, that this mental
emancipation lasts, but it is a second worth having!

One drives to the pyramids in an hour, over a macadamized road. The
perennial stories about trouble with the Bedouins belong to the past.
Soldiers and policemen guard the sands as they guard the Cairo streets,
and the proffer of false antiquities is not more pressing, perhaps, than
the demands of the beggars in town. These three pyramids of Gizeh are
those we think of before we have visited Egypt. But there are others;
including the small ones and those which are ruined, seventy have been
counted in twenty-five miles from Cairo to Meydoom, and pyramids are to
be seen in other parts of Egypt. The stories concerning Gizeh and the
travellers who, from Herodotus down, have visited the colossal tombs,
are innumerable. I do not know why the one about Lepsius should seem to
me amusing. This learned man and his party, who were sent to Egypt by
King Frederick William of Prussia in 1842, celebrated that king's
birthday by singing in chorus the Prussian national anthem in the centre
of Cheops. The Bedouins in attendance reported outside that they had
"prayed all together a loud general prayer."

In connection with the pyramids, the English may be said to have devoted
themselves principally to measurements. The genius of the French, which
is ever that of expression, has invented the one great sentence about
them. So far, the Americans have done nothing by which to distinguish
themselves; but their time will come, perhaps. One fancies that Edison
will have something to do with it. In the meanwhile modernity is already
there. There is a hotel at the foot of Cheops, and one hardly knows
whether to laugh or to cry when one sees lawn-tennis going on there

But no matter what lies before us--even if they should pave the desert,
and establish an English tramway (or a line of American horse-cars) to
the Sphinx--these mighty masses cannot be belittled. There is something
in the pyramids which overawes our boasted civilization. In their
presence this seems trivial; it seems an impertinence.


The most interesting of the Coptic churches are at Old Cairo, a mother
suburb, where the first city was founded by the conquering Arabian army.
Here, ensconced amid hill-like mounds of rubbish, concealed behind mud
walls, hidden at the end of blind alleys, one finds the temples of these
native Christians, who are the descendants of the converts of St. Mark.
The exterior walls have no importance. In truth, one seldom sees them,
for the churches are within other structures. Some of them form part of
old fortified convents; one is reached by passing through the
dwelling-rooms of an inhabited house; another is up-stairs in a Roman
tower. You arrive somehow at a door. When this is opened, you find
yourself in a church whose general aspect is rough, and whose aisles are
adorned with dust and sometimes with dirt. But these temples have their
treasures. Chief among them are the high choir screens of dark wood,
elaborately carved in panels, and decorated with morsels of ivory which
have grown yellow from age. The sculpture is not open-work; it does not
go through the panel; it is done in relief. The designs are Saracenic,
but these geometrical patterns are interrupted every now and then by
Christian emblems and by the Coptic cross. The style of this
wood-carving is unique; no other sculpture resembles it. If it does not
quite attain beauty, it is at least very odd and rich. There are also
carved doors representing Scriptural subjects, marble pulpits, singular
bronze candlesticks, brass censers adorned with little bells,
silver-gilt gospel-cases, embroidered vestments, silver marriage-diadems,
ostrich eggs in metal cases, and old Byzantine paintings, often
representing St. George, for St. George is the patron saint of the

[Illustration: A DONKEY RIDE]

These people esteem themselves to be the true descendants of the ancient
Egyptians, as distinguished from the conquering race of Arabians who
have now overrun their land. It is a comical idea, but they call upon
us to note their close resemblance to the mummies. Early converts to
Christianity, they have remained faithful to their belief amid the
Mohammedan population all about them. It must be mentioned, however,
that they had been pronounced heretics by the Council of Chalcedon
before the Arabian conquest; for they had refused to worship the human
nature of Christ, revering His divine nature alone. They are the
guardians of the Christian legends of Egypt. In a crypt under one of
their churches they show two niches. One, they say, was the
sleeping-place of Joseph, and the other of the Virgin and Child, during
the flight into Egypt. Near Heliopolis is an ancient tree, under whose
branches the Holy Family are supposed to have rested when the sunshine
was too hot for further travelling.

There are between four and five hundred thousand Copts in Egypt. It may
be mentioned here that the Christians of the country, including all
branches of the faith, number to-day about six hundred thousand, or
one-tenth of the population. The Copts are the book-keepers and scribes;
they are also the jewellers and embroiderers. Their ancient tongue has
fallen into disuse, and is practically a dead language. They now use
Arabic, like all the rest of the nation; but the speech survives in
their church service, a part of which is still given in the old tongue,
though it is said that even the priests themselves do not always
understand what they are saying, having merely learned the sentences by
heart, so that they can repeat them as a matter of form. Copts have been
converted to Protestantism during these latter days by the American

They are not, in appearance, an attractive people. Their convents and
churches, at least in Cairo and its neighborhood, are so hidden away,
inaccessible, and dirty that they are but slightly appreciated by the
majority of travellers, who spend far more of their time among the
mosques of Mohammed. But both the people and their ancient language are
full of interest from an historical point of view. They form a field for
research which will give some day rich results. A little has been done,
and well done; but much still remains hidden. It has yet to be dug out
by the learned. Then it must be translated by the middle-men into those
agreeable little histories which, with agreeable little tunes, agreeable
little stories, and agreeable little pictures, are the delight of the


The large modern cafés of Cairo are imitations of the cafés of Paris.
They are uninteresting, save that one sees under their awnings, or at
the little tables within, the stambouline in all its glory and
ugliness--that is, the heavy black frock-coat with stiff collar, which,
with the fez or tarboosh, is the appointed costume for all persons who
are employed by the government. The stranger, observing the large number
of men of all ages in this attire, is led to the conclusion that the
government must employ many thousands of persons in Cairo alone; but
probably there is a permitted usage in connection with it, like that
mysterious legend--"By especial appointment to the Queen"--which one
sees so often in England inscribed over the doors of little shops in
provincial High Streets, where the inns have names which to Americans
are as fantastic as anything in "Tartarin;" the "White Horse;" the "Crab
and Lobster;" the "Three Choughs;" and the "Five Alls."

The native cafés have much more local color than the homes of the
stambouline. Outside are rows of high wooden settees, upon which the
patrons of the establishment sit cross-legged, their slippers left on
the ground below. One often sees a row of Arabs squatting here, holding
no communication with each other, hearing nothing, seeing nothing,
enjoying for the moment an absolute rest. This period of daily repose,
called kief, is a necessity for Egyptians. It has its overweight, its
excess, in the smoking of hasheesh, which is one of the curses of the
land; but thousands of the people who never touch hasheesh would
understand as little how to get through their day without this
interregnum as without eating; in fact, eating is less important to

The Egyptian often takes his rest at the café. When the American sees
Achmet and Ibrahim, who have attended to some of his errands for
infinitesimal wages--men whose sole possessions are the old cotton gowns
on their backs--when he sees them squatted in broad daylight at the
café, smoking the long pipes and slowly drinking the Mocha coffee, it
appears to him an inexplicable idleness, an incurable self-indulgence.
It is idleness, no doubt, but associations should not be mixed with the
subject. To the American the little cup of after-dinner coffee seems a
luxury. He does not always stop to remember that Achmet's coffee is,
very possibly, all the dinner he is to have; that it has been preceded
by nothing since daylight but a small piece of Egyptian bread, and that
it will be followed by nothing before bedtime but a mouthful of beans or
a lettuce-stalk. The daily rest is by no means taken always at the café.
Egyptians also take it at the baths, where, after the final douche, they
spend half an hour in motionless ease. For those who have not the paras
for the café or the bath, the mosques offer their shaded courts. When
there is no time to seek another place, the men take their rest wherever
they are. One often sees them lying asleep, or apparently asleep, in
their booths at the bazaars. The very beggars draw their rags round
them, cover their faces, and lie down close to a wall in the crowded

[Illustration: AN ARAB CAFÉ

From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

At the cafés, during another stage of the rest, games are played, the
favorites being dominos, backgammon, and chess. Sometimes a story-teller
entertains the circle. He narrates the deeds of Antar and legends of
adventure; he also tells stories from the Bible, such as the tale of the
flood, or of Daniel in the den of lions. Sometimes he recites, in
Arabic, the poems of Omar Khayyam.

    "I sent my soul through the invisible,
      Some letter of that after-life to spell;
    And by-and-by my soul returned to me,
      And answered, 'I myself am heaven and hell!'"

This verse of the Persian poet might be taken as the motto of kief; for
if the heaven or hell of each person is simply the condition of his own
mind, then if he is able every day to reduce his mind, even for a
half-hour only, to a happy tranquillity which has forgotten all its
troubles, has he not gained that amount of paradise?



[Illustration: arabic]

"I love the Arabian language for three reasons: because I am an Arab
myself; because the Koran is in Arabic; because Arabic is the language
of Paradise." This hadith, or saying, of Mohammed might be put upon the
banner of the old university of Cairo, El Azhar; that is, the Splendid.
El Azhar was founded in the tenth century, when Cairo itself was hardly
more than a name. In its unmoved attachment to the beliefs of its
founders, to their old enthusiasms, their methods and hates, El Azhar
has opposed an inflexible front to the advance of European ideas,
sending out year after year its hundreds of pupils to all parts of Egypt
and to Nubia, to the Soudan and to Morocco, to Turkey, Arabia, and
Syria, to India and Ceylon, and to the borders of Persia, believing that
so long as it could keep the education of the young in its grasp the
reign of the Prophet was secure. It is to-day the most important
Mohammedan college in the world; for though it has no longer the twenty
thousand students who crowded its courts in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, there is still an annual attendance of from seven
to ten thousand; by some authorities the number is given as twelve
thousand. The twelve thousand have no academic groves; they have not
even one tree. There is nothing sequestered about El Azhar; it is near
the bazaars in the old part of the town, where the houses are crowded
together like wasps' nests. One sees nothing of it as one approaches
save the minarets above, and in the narrow, crowded lane an outer
portal. Here the visitor must show his permit and put on the
mosque-shoes, for El Azhar was once a mosque, and is now mosque and
university combined. After the shoes are on he steps over the low bar,
and finds himself within the porch, which is a marvel as it stands, with
its fretwork, carved stones, faded reds, and those old plaques of
inscription which excite one's curiosity so desperately, and which no
dragoman can ever translate, no matter in how many languages he can
complacently ask, "You satisfi?" One soon learns something of the older
tongue; hieroglyphics are not difficult; any one with eyes can discover
after a while that the A of the ancient Egyptians is, often, a bird who
bears a strong resemblance to a pigeon; that their L is a lion; and that
the name of the builder of the Great Pyramid, for instance, is
represented by a design which looks like two freshly hatched chickens, a
football, and a horned lizard (speaking, of course, respectfully of them
all). But one can never find out the meaning of the tantalizing
characters, so many thousand years nearer our own day, which confront
us, surrounded by arabesques, over old Cairo gateways, across the fronts
of the street fountains, or inscribed in faded gilt on the crumbling
walls of mosques. It is probable that they are Kufic, and one would
hardly demand, I suppose, that an English guide should read
black-letter? But who can be reasonable in the land of Aladdin's Lamp?

The porch leads to the large central court, which is open to the sky,
the breeze, and the birds; and this last is not merely a possibility,
for birds of all kinds are numerous in Egypt, and unmolested. On the
pavement of this court, squatting in groups, are hundreds of the
turbaned students, some studying aloud, some reading aloud (it is always
aloud), some listening to a professor (who also squats), some eating
their frugal meals, some mending their clothes, and some merely
chatting. These groups are so many and so close together that often the
visitor can only make the circuit of the place on its outskirts; he
cannot cross. There is generally a carrier of drinking-water making his
rounds amid the serried ranks. "For whoever is thirsty, here is water
from God," he chants. One is almost afraid to put down the melodious
phrase, for the street cries of Cairo have become as trite as the _Ranz
des Vaches_ of Switzerland. Still, some of them are so imaginative and
quaint that they should be rescued from triteness and made classic. Here
is one which is chanted by the seller of vegetables--the best beans, it
should be explained, come from Embebeh, beyond Boulak--"Help, O Embebeh,
help! The beans of Embebeh are better than almonds. Oh-h, how _sweet_
are the little sons of the river!" (This last phrase makes poetical
allusion to the soaking in Nile water, which is required before the
beans can be cooked.) Certain famous baked beans nearer home also
require preliminary soaking. Let us imagine a huckster calling out in
Boston streets, as he pursues his way: "Help, O Beverly, help! The beans
of Beverly are better than peaches. Oh-h, how _sweet_ are the little
sons of Cochituate!"

[Illustration: PORCH OF EL AZHAR

From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

The central court of the Splendid is surrounded by colonnades, whose
walls are now undergoing repairs; but the propping beams do not appear
to disturb either the pupils or teachers. On the east side is the
sanctuary, which is also a school-room, but a covered one; it is a
large, low-ceilinged hall, covering an area of thirty-six hundred square
yards; by day its light is dusky; by night it is illuminated by twelve
hundred twinkling little lamps suspended from the ceiling by bronze
chains. The roof is supported by three hundred and eighty antique
columns of marble and granite placed in irregular ranges; there are so
many of these pillars that to be among them is like standing in a grove.
The pavement is smoothly covered with straw matting; and here also are
assembled throngs of pupils--some studying, some reciting, some asleep.
I paid many visits to El Azhar, moving about quietly with my venerable
little dragoman, whom I had selected for an unusual accomplishment--silence.
One day I came upon an arithmetic class; the professor, a thin,
ardent-eyed man of forty, was squatted upon a beautiful Turkish rug at
the base of a granite column; his class of boys, numbering thirty, were
squatted in a half-circle facing him, their slates on the matting before
them. The professor had a small black-board which he had propped up so
that all could see it, and there on its surface I saw inscribed that
enemy of my own youth, a sum in fractions--three-eighths of seven-ninths
of twelve-twentieths of ten-thirty-fifths, and so on; evidently the
terrible thing is as savage as ever! The professor grew excited; he
harangued his pupils; he did the sum over and over, rubbing out and
rewriting his ferocious conundrum with a bit of chalk. Slender Arabian
hands tried the sum furtively on the little slates; but no one had
accomplished the task when, afraid of being remarked, I at last turned

The outfit of a well-provided student at El Azhar consists of a rug, a
low desk like a small portfolio-easel, a Koran, a slate, an inkstand,
and an earthen dish. Instruction is free, and boys are admitted at the
early age of eight years. The majority of the pupils do not remain after
their twelfth or fourteenth year; a large number, however, pursue their
studies much longer, and old students return from time to time to obtain
further instruction, so that it is not uncommon to see a gray-bearded
pupil studying by the side of a child who might be his grandson. To me
it seemed that two-thirds of the students were men between thirty and
forty years of age; but this may have been because one noticed them
more, as collegians so mature are an unusual sight for American eyes.

All the pupils bow as they study, with a motion like that of the bowing
porcelain mandarins. The custom is attributed to the necessity for
bending the head whenever the name of Allah is encountered; as the first
text-book is always the Koran, children have found it easier to bow at
regular intervals with an even motion than to watch for the numerous
repetitions of the name. The habit thus formed in childhood remains, and
one often sees old merchants in the bazaars reading for their own
entertainment, and bowing to and fro as they read. I have even beheld
young men, smartly dressed in full European attire, who, lost in the
interest of a newspaper, had forgotten themselves for the moment, and
were bending to and fro unconsciously at the door of a French café. A
nation that enjoys the rocking-chair ought to understand this. Some of
the students of El Azhar have rooms outside, but many of them possess no
other shelter than these two courts, where they sleep upon their rugs
spread over the matting or pavement. Food can be brought in at pleasure,
but those two Oriental time-consumers, pipes and coffee, are not allowed
within the precincts. In one of the porches barbers are established;
there is generally a row of students undergoing the process of
head-shaving. The fierce, fanatical blind pupils, so often described in
the past by travellers, are no longer there; the porter can show only
their empty school-room. Blindness is prevalent in Egypt; no doubt the
sunshine of the long summer has something to do with it, but another
cause is the neglected condition of young children. There is no belief
so firmly established in the minds of Egyptian mothers as the
superstition that the child who is clean and well-dressed will
inevitably attract the dreaded evil-eye, and suffer ever afterwards from
the effects of the malign glance. I have seen women who evidently
belonged to the upper ranks of the middle class--women dressed in silk,
with gold ornaments, and a following servant--who were accompanied by a
poor baby of two or three years of age, so dirty, so squalid and
neglected, that any one unacquainted with the country would have
supposed it to be the child of a beggar.

In addition to the bowing motion, instruction at El Azhar is aided by a
mnemonic system, the rules of grammar, and other lessons also, being
given in rhyme. I suppose our public schools are above devices of this
sort; but there are some of us among the elders who still fly mentally,
when the subject of English history comes up, to that useful poem
beginning "First, William the Norman;" and I have heard of the rules for
the use of "shall" and "will" being properly remembered only when set to
the tune of "Scotland's burning!" Surely any tune--even "Man the
Life-boat"--would become valuable if it could clear up the bogs of the

It must be mentioned that El Azhar did not invent its mnemonics; it has
inherited them from the past. All the mediæval universities made use of
the system.

The central court is surrounded on three sides by chambers, one of which
belongs to each country and to each Egyptian province represented at the
college. These sombre apartments are filled with oddly-shaped wardrobes,
which are assigned to the students for their clothes. There is a legend
connected with these rooms: At dusk a man whose heart is pure is
sometimes permitted to see the elves who come at that hour to play
games in the inner court under the columns; here they run races, they
chase each other over the matting, they climb the pillars, and indulge
in a thousand antics. The little creatures are said to live in the
wardrobes, and each student occasionally places a few flowers within, to
avert from himself the danger that comes from their too great love of
tricks. There are other inhabitants of these rooms who also indulge in
tricks. These are little animals which I took to be ferrets; twice I had
a glimpse of a disappearing tail, like a dark flash, as I passed over a
threshold. Probably they are kept as mouse-hunters, for pets are not
allowed; if they were, it would be entertaining to note those which
would be brought hither by homesick pupils from the Somali coast, or

In beginning his education the first task for a boy is to commit the
Koran to memory. As he learns a portion he is taught to read and to
write those paragraphs; in this way he goes through the entire volume.
Grammar comes next; at El Azhar the word includes logic, rhetoric,
composition, versification, elocution, and other branches. Then follows
law, secular and religious. But the law, like the logic, like all the
instruction, is founded exclusively upon the Koran. As there is no
inquiry into anything new, the precepts have naturally taken a fixed
shape; the rules were long ago established, and they have never been
altered; the student of 1890 receives the information given to the
student of 1490, and no more. But it is this very fact which makes El
Azhar interesting to the looker-on; it is a living relic, a survival in
the nineteenth century of the university of the fourteenth and
fifteenth. It is true that when we think of those great colleges of the
past, the picture which rises in the mind is not one of turbaned, seated
figures in flowing robes; it is rather of aggressively agile youths,
with small braggadocio caps perched on their long locks, their
slender waists outlined in the shortest of jackets, and their long legs
incased in the tightest of party-colored hose. But this is because the
great painters of the past have given immortality to these astonishing
scholars of their own lands by putting them upon their canvases. They
confined themselves to their own lands too, unfortunately for us; they
did not set sail, with their colors and brushes, upon Homer's "misty
deep." It would be interesting to see what Pinturicchio would have made
of El Azhar; or how Gentile da Fabriano would have copied the crowded
outer court.

[Illustration: STUDENTS IN THE OUTER COURT, EL AZHAR From a photograph
by Abdullah Frères, Cairo]

The president of El Azhar occupies, in native estimation, a position of
the highest authority. Napoleon, recognizing this power, requested the
aid of his influence in inducing Cairo to surrender in 1798. The sheykh
complied; and a month later the wonderful Frenchman, in full Oriental
costume, visited the university in state, and listened to a recitation
from the Koran.

Now that modern schools have been established by the government in
addition to the excellent and energetic mission seminaries maintained by
the English, the Americans, the Germans, and the French, one wonders
whether this venerable Arabian college will modify its tenets or shrink
to a shadow and disappear. There are hopeful souls who prophesy the
former; but I do not agree with them. Let us aid the American schools by
all the means in our power. But as for El Azhar, may it fade (as fade it
must) with its ancient legends draped untouched about it.

All who visit Cairo see the Assiout ware--pottery made of red and black
earth, and turned on a wheel; it comes from Assiout, two hundred and
thirty miles up the Nile, and the simple forms of the vases and jugs,
the rose-water stoups and narrow-necked perfume-throwers, are often
very graceful. Assiout ware is offered for sale in the streets; but the
itinerant venders are sent out by a dealer in the bazaars, and the
fatality which makes it happen that the vender has two black stoups and
one red jug when you wish for one black stoup and two red jugs sent us
to headquarters. But the crowded booth did not contain our heart's
desire, and as we still lingered, making ourselves, I dare say, too
pressing for the Oriental ease of the proprietor, it was at last
suggested that Mustapha might perhaps go to the store-room for more--?
(the interrogation-point meaning backsheesh). Seizing the opportunity,
we asked permission to accompany the messenger. No one objecting--as the
natives consider all strangers more or less mad--we were soon following
our guide through a dusky passageway behind the shop, the darkness lit
by the gleam of his white teeth as he turned, every now and then, to
give us an encouraging smile and a wink of his one eye, over his
shoulder. At length--still in the dark--we arrived at a stairway, and,
ascending, found ourselves in a second-story court, which was roofed
over with matting. This court was surrounded by chambers fitted with
rough, sliding fronts: almost all of the fronts were at the moment
thrown up, as a window is thrown up and held by its pulleys. In one of
these rooms we found Assiout ware in all its varieties; but we made a
slow choice. We were evidently in a lodging-house of native Cairo; all
the chambers save this one store-room appeared to be occupied as
bachelors' apartments. The two rooms nearest us belonged to El Azhar
students, so Mustapha said: he could speak no English, but he imparted
the information in Arabic to our dragoman. Seeing that we were more
interested in the general scene than in his red jugs, Mustapha left the
Assiout ware to its fate, and, lighting a cigarette, seated himself on
the railing with a disengaged air, as much as to say: "Two more mad
women! But it's nothing to me." One of the students was evidently an
ascetic; his room contained piles of books and pamphlets, and almost
nothing else; his one rug was spread out close to the front in order to
get the light, and placed upon it we saw his open inkstand, his pens,
and a page of freshly copied manuscript. When we asked where he was,
Mustapha replied that he had gone down to the fountain to wash himself,
so that he could say his prayers. The second chamber belonged to a
student of another disposition; this extravagant young man had three
rugs; clothes hung from pegs upon his walls, and he possessed an extra
pair of lemon-colored slippers; in addition we saw cups and saucers upon
a shelf. Only two books were visible, and these were put away in a
corner; instead of books he had flowers; the whole place was adorned
with them; pots containing plants in full bloom were standing on the
floor round the walls of his largely exposed abode, and were also drawn
up in two rows in the passageway outside, where he himself, sitting on a
mat, was sewing. His blossoms were so gay that involuntarily we smiled.
Whereupon he smiled too, and gave us a salam. Opposite the rooms of the
students there was a large chamber, almost entirely filled with white
bales, like small cotton bales; in a niche between these high piles, an
old man, kneeling at the threshold, was washing something in a large
earthen-ware tub of a pink tint. His body was bare from the waist
upward, and, as he bent over his task, his short chest, with all the
ribs clearly visible, his long brown back with the vertebræ of the spine
standing out, and his lean, seesawing arms, looked skeleton-like, while
his head, supported on a small wizened throat, was adorned with such an
enormous bobbing turban, dark green in hue, that it resembled vegetation
of some sort--a colossal cabbage. Directly behind him, also on the
threshold, squatted a large gray baboon, whose countenance expressed a
fixed misanthropy. Every now and then this creature, who was secured by
a long, loose cord, ascended slowly to the top of the bales and came
down on the other side, facing his master. He then looked deeply into
the tub for several minutes, touched the water carefully with his small
black hand, withdrew it, and inspected the palm, and then returned
gravely, and by the same roundabout way over the bales, to resume his
position at the doorsill, looking as if he could not understand the
folly of such unnecessary and silly toil.

In another chamber a large, very black negro, dressed in pure white, was
seated upon the floor, with his feet stretched out in front of him, his
hands placed stiffly on his knees, his eyes staring straight before him.
He was motionless; he seemed hardly to breathe.

"What is he doing?" I said to the dragoman.

"He? Oh, he _berry_ good man; he pray."

In a chamber next to the negro two grave old Arabs were playing chess.
They were perched upon one of those Cairo settees which look like square
chicken-coops. One often sees these seats in the streets, placed for
messengers and porters, and for some time I took them for actual
chicken-coops, and wondered why they were always empty. Chickens might
well have inhabited the one used by the chess-players, for the central
court upon which all these chambers opened was covered with a layer of
rubbish and dirt several inches thick, which contained many of their
feathers. It was upon this same day that we made our search for the Khan
of Kait Bey. No dragoman knows where it is. The best way, indeed, to see
the old quarters is to select from a map the name of a street as remote
as possible from the usual thoroughfares beloved by these tasselled
guides, and then demand to be conducted thither.


From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

We did this in connection with the Khan of Kait Bey. But when we had
achieved the distinction of finding it, we discovered that it was
impossible to see it. The winding street is so narrow, and so constantly
crowded with two opposed streams of traffic, that your donkey cannot
pause to give you a chance to inspect the portion which is close to your
eyes, and there is no spot where you can get a view in perspective of
the whole. So you pass up the lane, turn, and come down again; and, if
conscientious, you repeat the process, obtaining for all your pains only
a confused impression of horizontal plaques and panels, with ruined
walls tottering above them, and squalid shops below. There is a fine
arched gateway adorned with pendentives; that, on account of its size,
you can see; it leads into the khan proper, where were once the chambers
for the travelling merchants and the stalls for their beasts; but all
this is now a ruin. One of the best authorities on Saracenic art has
announced that this khan is adorned with more varieties of exquisite
arabesques than any single building in Cairo. This may be true. But to
appreciate the truth of the statement one needs wings or a ladder. The
word ladder opens the subject of the two ways of looking at
architecture--in detail or as a whole. The natural power of the eye has
more to do with this than is acknowledged. If one can distinctly see,
without effort and aid, a whole façade at a glance, with the general
effect of its proportions, the style of its ornament, the lights and
shadows, the outline of the top against the sky, one is more interested
in this than in the small traceries, for instance, over one especial
window. There are those of us who remember the English cathedrals by
their great towers rising in the gray air, with the birds flying about
them. There are others who, never having clearly seen this vision--for
no opera-glass can give the whole--recall, for their share of the
pleasure, the details of the carvings over the porches, or of the old
tombs within. It is simply the far-sighted and the near-sighted view.
Another authority, a master who has had many disciples, has (of late
years, at least) devoted himself principally to the near-sighted view.
In his maroon-colored Tracts on Venice he has given us a minute account
of the features of the small faces of the capitals of the columns of the
Doge's palace (all these ofs express the minuteness of it); but when we
stand on the pavement below the palace--and naturally we cannot stand in
mid-air--we find that it is impossible to follow him: I speak of the old
capitals, some of which are still untouched. The solution lies in the
ladder. And Ruskin, as regards his later writings, may be called the
ladder critic. The poet Longfellow, arriving in Verona during one of his
Italian journeys, learned that Ruskin was also there, and not finding
him at the hotel, went out in search of his friend. After a while he
came upon him at the Tombs of the Scaligers. Here high in the air, at
the top of a long ladder, with a servant keeping watch below, was a
small figure. It was Ruskin, who, nose to nose with them, was making a
careful drawing of some of the delicate terminal ornaments of those
splendid Gothic structures. One does not object to the careful drawings
any more than to the descriptions of the little faces at Venice. They
are good in their way. But one wishes to put upon record the suggestion
that architectural beauty as viewed from a ladder, inch by inch, is not
the only aspect of that beauty; nor is it, for a large number of us, the
most important aspect. A man who is somewhat deaf, if talking about a
symphony, will naturally dwell upon the strains which he has heard--that
is, the louder portions; but he ought not therefore to assume that the
softer notes are insignificant.


On the 31st of January, 1890, we took part in a horse-race. It was a
long race of great violence, and the horses engaged in it were
disgracefully thin and weak. "Very Mohammedan--that," some one comments.
The race was Mohammedan from one point of view, for it was connected
with the dervishes, Mohammedans of fanatical creed. The dervishes,
however, remained in their monasteries--with their fanaticism; the race
was made by Christians, who, crowded into rattling carriages, flew in a
body from the square of Sultan Hassan through the long, winding lanes
that lead towards Old Cairo at a speed which endangered everybody's
life, with wheels grating against each other, coachmen standing up and
yelling like demons, whiplashes curling round the ribs of the wretched,
ill-fed, galloping horses, and natives darting into their houses on each
side to save themselves from death, as the furious procession, in clouds
of dust, rushed by. The cause of this sudden madness is found in the
fact that the two best-known orders of these Mohammedan monks (one calls
them monks for want of a better name; they have some resemblance to
monks, and some to Freemasons) go through their rites once a week only,
and upon the same afternoon; by making this desperate haste it is
possible to see both services; and as travellers, for the most part,
make but a short stay in Cairo, they find themselves taking part,
_nolens volens_, in this frantic progress, led by their ambitious
dragomans, who appear to enjoy it. The service of the Dancing Dervishes
takes place in their mosque, which is near the square of Sultan Hassan.
Here they have a small circular hall; round this arena, and elevated
slightly above it, is an aisle where spectators are allowed to stand;
over the aisle is the gallery. This January day brought a crowd of
visitors who filled the aisle completely. Presently a dervish made the
circuit of the empty arena, warning, by a solemn gesture, those who had
seated or half-seated themselves upon the balustrade that the attitude
was not allowed. As soon as he had passed, some of the warned took their
places again. Naturally, these were spectators of the gentler sex. I am
even afraid that they were pilgrims from the land where the gentler sex
is accustomed from its earliest years to a profound deference. Two of
these pretty pilgrims transgressed in this way four times, and at last
the dervish came and stood before them. They remained seated, returning
his gaze with amiable tranquillity. What he thought I do not know--this
lean Egyptian in his old brown cloak and conical hat. I fancied,
however, that it had something to do with the great advantages of the
Mohammedan system regarding the seclusion of women. He did not conquer.

At length began the music. The band of the dervishes is placed in one of
the galleries; we could see the performers squatting on their rugs, the
instruments being flutes or long pipes, and small drums like tambourines
without the rattles. Egyptian music has a marked time, but no melody; no
matter how good an ear one has, it is impossible to catch and resing its
notes, even though one hears them daily. Pierre Loti writes: "The
strains of the little flutes of Africa charm me more than the most
perfect orchestral harmonies of other lands." If by this he means that
the flutes recall to his memory the magic scenes of Oriental life, that
is one thing; but if he means that he really loves the sounds for
themselves, I am afraid we must conclude that this prince of verbal
expression has not an ear for music (which is only fair; a man cannot
have everything). The band of the dervishes sends forth a high wail,
accompanied by a rumble. Neither, however, is distressingly loud.


From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

Meanwhile the dervishes have entered, and, muffled in their cloaks, are
standing, a silent band, round the edge of the arena; their sheykh--a
very old man, much bent, but with a noble countenance--takes his place
upon the sacred rug, and receives with dignity their obeisances. All
remain motionless for a while. Then the sheykh rises, heads the
procession, and, with a very slow step, they all move round the arena,
bowing towards the sacred carpet as they pass it. This opening ceremony
concluded, the sheykh again takes his seat, and the dervishes, divesting
themselves of their cloaks, step one by one into the open space, where,
after a prayer, each begins whirling slowly, with closed eyes. They are
all attired in long, full white skirts, whose edges have weights
attached to them; as the speed of the music increases, their whirl
becomes more rapid, but it remains always even; though their eyes are
closed, they never touch each other. From the description alone, it is
difficult to imagine that this rite (for such it is) is solemn. But
looked at with the actual eyes, it seemed to me an impressive ceremony;
the absorbed appearance of the participants, their unconsciousness of
all outward things, the earnestness of the aspiration visible on their
faces--all these were striking. The zikr, as this species of religious
effort is named, is an attempt to reach a state of ecstasy
(hallucination, we should call it), during which the human being, having
forgotten the existence of its body, becomes for the moment spirit only,
and can then mingle with the spirit world. The Dancing Dervishes
endeavor to bring on this trance by the physical dizziness which is
produced by whirling; the Howling Dervishes try to effect the same by
swinging their heads rapidly up and down, and from side to side, with a
constant shout of "Allah!" "Allah!". The latter soon reach a state of
temporary frenzy. For this reason the dancers are more interesting;
their ecstasy, being silent, seems more earnest. The religion of the
Hindoos has a similar idea in another form--namely, that the highest
happiness is a mingling with God, and an utter unconsciousness of one's
humanity. Christian hermits, in retiring from the world, have sought, as
far as possible, the same mental condition; but for a lifetime, not,
like the dervishes, for an hour. These enthusiasts marry, if they
please; many of them are artisans, tradesmen, and farm laborers, and
only go at certain times to the monasteries to take part in the zikrs.
There are many different orders, and several other kinds of zikr besides
the two most commonly seen by travellers.

[Illustration: A MECCA DOOR]

Travellers see also the Mohammedan prayers. These prayers, with
alms-giving, fasting during the month Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to
Mecca, are the important religious duties of all Muslims. The excellent
new hotel, the Continental, where we had our quarters, a hotel whose
quiet and comfort are a blessing to Cairo, overlooked a house which was
undergoing alteration; every afternoon at a certain hour a plasterer
came from his work within, and, standing in a corner under our windows,
divested himself of his soiled outer gown; then, going to a wall-faucet,
he turned on the water, and rapidly but carefully washed his face, his
hands and arms, his feet, and his legs as far as his knees, according to
Mohammed's rule; this done, he took down from a tree a clean board which
he kept there for the purpose, and, placing it upon the ground, he
kneeled down upon it, with his face towards Mecca, and went through his
worship, many times touching the ground with his forehead in token of
self-humiliation. His devotions occupied five or six minutes. As soon as
they were over, the board was quickly replaced in the tree, the soiled
gown put on again, and the man hurried back to his work with an
alertness which showed that he was no idler. On the Nile, at the
appointed hour, our pilot gave the wheel to a subordinate, spread out
his prayer-carpet on the deck, and said his prayers with as much
indifference to the eyes watching him as though they did not exist. In
the bazaars the merchants pray in their shops; the public cook prays in
the street beside his little furnace; on the shores of the river at
sunset the kneeling figures outlined against the sky are one of the
pictures which all travellers remember. The official pilgrimage to Mecca
takes place each year, the departure and return of the pilgrim train
being celebrated with great pomp; the most ardent desire of every
Mohammedan is to make this journey before he dies. When a returning
Cairo pilgrim reaches home, it is a common custom to decorate his
doorway with figures, painted in brilliant hues, representing his
supposed adventures. The designs, which are very primitive in outline,
usually show the train of camels, the escort of soldiers, wonderful wild
beasts in fighting attitudes, nondescript birds and trees, and garlands
of flowers. One comes upon these Mecca doorways very frequently in the
old quarters. Sometimes the gay tints show that the journey was a recent
one; often the faded outlines speak of the zeal of an ancestor.


[Illustration: THE ROAD TO CHOUBRA.

From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

While in the city of the Khedive, if one has a wish for the benediction
of a far-stretching view, he must go to the Citadel. The prospect from
this hill has been described many times. One sees all Cairo, with her
minarets; the vivid green of the plain, with the Nile winding through
it; the desert meeting the verdure and stretching back to the red hills;
lastly, the pyramids, beginning with those of Gizeh, near at hand, and
ending, far in the distance, with the hazy outlines of those of Abouseer
and Sakkarah. The Citadel was built by Saladin in the twelfth century.
Saladin's palace, which formed part of it, was demolished in 1824 to
make room for the modern mosque, whose large dome and attenuated
minarets are now the last objects which fade away when the traveller
leaves Cairo behind him. This rich Mohammedan temple was the work of
Mehemet Ali, the founder of the present dynasty. It is not beautiful, in
spite of its alabaster, but Mehemet himself would probably admire it,
could he return to earth (the mosque was not completed until after
his death), as he had to the full that bad taste in architecture and art
which, for unexplained reasons, so often accompanies a new birth of
progress in an old country. Mehemet was born in Roumelia; he entered the
Turkish army, and after attaining the rank of colonel he was sent to
Egypt. Here he soon usurped all power, and had it not been for the
intervention of Russia and France, and later of England and Austria, it
is probable that he would have succeeded in freeing himself and the
country whose leadership he had grasped from the domination of Turkey.
Every one has heard something of the terrible massacre of the Memlooks
by his order, in this Citadel, in 1811. The Memlooks were opposed to all
progress, and Mehemet was bent upon progress. Freed from their power,
this ferocious liberator built canals; he did his best to improve
agriculture; he established a printing-office and founded schools; he
sent three hundred boys to Europe to be educated as civil engineers, as
machinists, as printers, as naval officers, and as physicians; his idea
was that, upon their return, they could instruct others. When the first
class came back, he filled his public schools by the simple method of
force. The translators of the French text-books which had been selected
for the use of the schools were taken from the ranks of the returned
students. A text-book was given to each, and all were kept closely
imprisoned in the Citadel a period of four months, until they had
completed their task. Mehemet had a dream of an Arabian kingdom in Egypt
which should in time rival the European nations without joining them. It
is this dream which makes him interesting. He was the first modern. A
Turk by birth, and remaining a Turk as regards his private life, he had
great ideas. Undoubtedly he possessed genius of a high order.

As to his private life, one comes across a trace of it at Choubra. This
was Mehemet's summer residence, and the place remains much as it was
during his lifetime. The road to Choubra, which was until recently the
favorite drive of the Cairenes, is now deserted. The palace stands on
the banks of the Nile, three miles from town, and its gardens, which
cover nine acres, are beautiful even in their present neglected
condition; in the spring the fragrance from the mass of blossoms is
intoxicatingly sweet. But the wonder of Choubra is a richly decorated
garden-house, containing, in a marble basin, a lake which is large
enough for skiffs. Here Mehemet often spent his evenings. Upon these
occasions the whole place was brilliantly lighted, and the hareem
disported itself in little boats on the fairy-like pool, and in
strolling up and down the marble colonnades, unveiled (as Mehemet was
the only man present), and in their richest attire. The marbles have
grown dim, the fountains are choked, the colonnades are dusty, and the
lake has a melancholy air. But even in its decay Choubra presents to the
man of fancy--a few such men still exist--a picture of Oriental scenes
which he has all his life imagined, perhaps, but whose actual traces he
no more expected to see with his own eyes in 1890 than to behold the
silken sails of Cleopatra furled among Cook's steamers on the Nile.
Mehemet's last years were spent at Choubra, and here he died, in 1849,
at the age of eighty-one. As he had forced from Turkey a firman
assigning the throne to his own family, he was succeeded by one of his


In 1863 (after the short reign of Ibrahim, five years of Abbas, and
eight of Said), Ismail, Mehemet's grandson, ascended the throne. He had
received his education in Paris.


From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]

Much has been written about this man. The opening, in 1869, of the Suez
Canal turned the eyes of the entire civilized world upon Egypt. The
writers swooped down upon the ancient country in a flock, and the canal,
the land, and its ruler were described again and again. The ruler was
remarkable. Ismail was short (one speaks of him in the past tense,
although he is not dead), with very broad shoulders; his hands were
singularly thick; his ears also were thick, and oddly placed; his feet
were small, and he always wore finically fine French shoes. There was
nothing of the Arab in his face, and little of the Turk. One of his
eyelids had a natural droop, and vexed diplomatists have left it upon
record that he had the power of causing the other to droop also, thus
making it possible for him to study the faces of his antagonists at his
leisure, he, meanwhile, presenting to them in return a blind mask. The
mask, however, was amiable; it was adorned almost constantly with a
smile. The man must have had marked powers of fascination. At the
present day, when some of the secrets of his reign are known--though by
no means all--it is easy to paint him in the darkest colors; but during
the time of his power his great schemes dazzled the world, and people
liked him--it is impossible to doubt the testimony of so many pens;
European and American visitors always left his presence pleased.

There are in Cairo black stories of cruelty connected with his name.
These for the most part are unwritten; they are told in the native cafés
and in the bazaars. It does not appear that he loved cruelty for its own
sake, as some of the Roman emperors loved it; but if any one rebelled
against his power or his pleasure, that person was sacrificed without
scruple. In some cases it took the form of a disappearance in the night,
without a sound or a trace left behind. This is the sort of thing we
associate with the old despotic ages. But 1869 is not a remote date,
and at that time the present Emperor of Austria, the late Emperor
Frederick (then Crown-Prince of Prussia), the Empress Eugénie, Prince
Oscar of Sweden, Prince Louis of Hesse, the Princess of the Netherlands,
the Duke and Duchess of Aosta, and other distinguished Europeans, were
the guests of this enigmatic host, eating his sumptuous dinners and
attending his magnificent balls. The festivities in connection with the
opening of the canal are said to have cost Ismail twenty-one millions of
dollars. The sum seems large; but it included the furnishing of palaces,
lavish hospitality to an army of guests besides the sovereigns and their
suites, and an opera to order--namely, Verdi's _Aïda_, which was given
with great brilliancy in Cairo, in an opera-house erected for the
occasion. Ismail, like Mehemet, had his splendid dream. He, too, wished
to free Egypt from the power of Turkey; but, unlike his grandfather, he
wished to take her bodily into the circle of the civilized nations, not
as a rival, but as an ally and friend. An Egyptian kingdom, under his
rule, was to extend from the Mediterranean to the equator; from the Red
Sea westward beyond Darfur. His bold ambition ended in disaster. His
railways, telegraphs, schools, harbors, and postal-service, together
with his personal extravagance, brought Egypt to the verge of
bankruptcy. All Europe now had a vital interest in the Suez Canal, and
the powers therefore united in a demand that the Sultan should stop the
career of his audacious Egyptian Viceroy. The Viceroy might perhaps have
resisted the Porte; he could not resist the united powers. In 1879 he
was deposed, and his son Tufik appointed in his place. Ismail left
Egypt. For several years he travelled, residing for a time in Naples; at
present he is living in a villa near Constantinople. There is a rumor in
Cairo that he is more of a prisoner there than he supposes. But this may
be only one of the legends that are always attached to Turkish
affairs. His dream has come true in one respect at least: Egypt has
indeed joined the circle of the European nations, but not in the manner
which Ismail intended; she is only a bondwoman--if the pun can be

[Illustration: THE KHEDIVE. From a photograph by Sebah, Cairo]


The Gezireh road is to-day the favorite afternoon drive of the Cairenes.
It is a broad avenue, raised above the plain, and overarched by trees
throughout its course. At many points it commands an uninterrupted view
of the pyramids. Two miles from town the Gezireh Palace rises on the
right, surrounded by gardens, which, unlike those of Choubra, are
carefully tended. It was built by Ismail. Of all these Cairo palaces it
must be explained that they have none of the characteristics of castles
or strongholds; they are merely lightly built residences, designed for a
climate which has ten months of summer. The central hall and grand
staircase of Gezireh are superb; alabaster, onyx, and malachite adorn
like jewels the beautiful marbles, which came from Carrara. The
drawing-rooms and audience-chambers have a splendid spaciousness: the
state apartments of many a royal palace in Europe sink into
insignificance in this respect when compared with them. Much of the
furniture is rich, but again (as in the old house of the Sheykh es
Sadat) one finds it difficult to forgive the tawdry French carpets and
curtains, when the bazaars close at hand could have contributed fabrics
of so much greater beauty. But Ismail's taste was French--that is, the
lowest shade of French--as French is still the taste of modern Egypt
among the upper classes. It remains to be seen whether the English
occupation will change this. During the festivities at the time of the
opening of the canal, Ismail's royal guests were entertained at
Gezireh. On the upper floor are the rooms which were occupied by the
Empress Eugénie, the walls and ceilings covered with thick satin, tufted
like the back of an arm-chair, its tint the shade of blue which is most
becoming to a blond complexion--Ismail's compliment to his beautiful
guest. During these days there were state dinners and balls at Gezireh,
with banks of orchids, myriads of wax-lights, and orchestras playing
strains from _La Belle Hélène_ and _La Grande Duchesse_. During one of
these balls the Emperor of Austria made a progress through the rooms
with Ismail, band after band taking up the Austrian national anthem as
the imperial guest entered. The vision of the stately, grave Franz Josef
advancing through these glittering halls by the side of the waddling
little hippopotamus of the Nile, to the martial notes of that fine hymn
(which we have appropriated for our churches under another name, and
without saying "By your leave"), is one of the sinister apparitions with
which this rococo palace, a palace half splendid, half shabby, is


From a photograph by Schoefft, Cairo]

In the garden there is a kiosk whose proportions charm the eye. The
guide-books inform us that this ornamentation is of cast-iron; that it
is an imitation of the Alhambra; that it is "considered the finest
modern Arabian building in the world"--all of which is against it.
Nevertheless, viewed from any point across the gardens, its outlines are
exquisite. Within there are more festal chambers, and a gilded
dining-room, which was the scene of the suppers (they were often orgies)
that were given by Ismail upon the occasion of his private masked balls.
At some distance from the palace, behind a screen of trees, are the
apartments reserved for the hareem. This smaller palace has no beauty,
unless one includes its enchanting little garden; such attraction as it
has comes from the light it sheds upon the daily life of Eastern
women. Occidental travellers are always curious about the hareem. The
word means simply the ladies, or women, of the family, and the term is
made to include also the rooms which they occupy, as our word "school"
might mean the building or the pupils within it. At Gezireh the hareem,
save that its appointments are more costly, is much like those
caravansaries which abound at our inland summer resorts. There are long
rows of small chambers opening from each side of narrow halls, with a
few sitting-rooms, which were held in common. The carpets, curtains, and
such articles of furniture as still remain are all flowery, glaring, and
in the worst possible modern taste, save that they do not exhibit those
horrible hues, surely the most hideous with which this world has been
cursed--the so-called solferinos and magentas. Besides their private
garden, the women and children of the hareem had for their entertainment
a small menagerie, an aviery, and a confectionery establishment, where
fresh bonbons were made for them every day, especially the sugared rose
leaves so dear to the Oriental heart. The chief of Ismail's four wives
had a passion for jewels. She possessed rubies and diamonds of unusual
size, and so many precious stones of all kinds that her satin dresses
were embroidered with them. She had her private band of female
musicians, who played for her, when she wished for music, upon the
violin, the flute, the zither, and the mandolin. The princesses of the
royal house, Ismail's wives and his sisters-in-law, could not bring
themselves to admire the Empress of the French. They were lost in wonder
over what they called her "pinched stiffness." It is true that the
uncorseted forms of Oriental beauties have nothing in common with the
rigid back and martial elbows of modern attire. Dimples, polished limbs,
dark, long-lashed eyes, and an indolent step are the ideals of the

The legends of these jewelled sultanas, of the masked balls, of the long
train of royal visitors, of the orchids, the orchestras, and the
wax-lights, are followed at Gezireh by a tale of murder which is
singularly ghastly. Ismail's Minister of Finance was his foster-brother
Sadyk, with whom he had lived upon terms of closest intimacy all his
life. The two were often together; frequently they drove out to Gezireh
to spend the night. One afternoon in 1878 Ismail's carriage stopped at
the doorway of the palace in Cairo occupied by his minister. Sadyk came
out. "Get in," Ismail was heard to say. "We will go to Gezireh. There
are business matters about which I must talk with you." The two men went
away together. Sadyk never came back. When the carriage reached Gezireh,
Ismail gave orders that it should stop at the palace, instead of going
on to the kiosk, where they generally alighted. He himself led the way
within, crossing the reception-room to the small private salon which
overlooks the Nile. Here he seated himself upon a sofa, drawing up his
feet in the Oriental fashion, which was not his usual custom. Sadyk was
about to follow his example, when he found himself seized suddenly from
behind. The doors were now locked from the outside, leaving within only
the two foster-brothers and the man who had seized Sadyk. This was a
Nubian named Ishak, a creature celebrated for his strength. He now
proceeded to murder Sadyk after a fashion of his own country, a process
of breaking the bones of the chest and neck in a manner which leaves on
the skin no sign. Sadyk fought for his life; he dragged the Nubian over
the white velvet carpet, and finally bit off two of his fingers. But he
was not a young man, and in the end he was conquered. During this
struggle Ismail remained motionless on the sofa, with his feet drawn up
and his arms folded. A steamer lay at anchor outside, and during the
night Sadyk's body was placed on board; at dawn the boat started up the
river. At the same hour Ismail drove back to Cairo, where, in the course
of the morning, it was officially announced that the Minister of
Finance, having been detected in colossal peculations, had been banished
to the White Nile, and was already on his way thither. Sadyk's body
rests somewhere at the bottom of the river. But Ismail's little drama of
banishment and the steamer were set at naught when, after he had left
Cairo, Ishak the Nubian returned, with his mutilated hand and his story.
Such is the tale as it is told in the bazaars. Ismail's motive in
murdering a man he liked (he was incapable of true affection for any
one) is found in the fact that he could place upon the shoulders of the
missing minister the worst of the financial irregularities which were
trying the patience of the European powers. It did him no good. He was
deposed the next year.

During the spring of 1890 Gezireh awoke to new life for a time. A French
company had purchased the place, with the intention of opening it as an
Egyptian Monte Carlo. But Khedive Tufik, who has prohibited gambling
throughout his domain, forbade the execution of this plan. So the
tarnished silks remain where they were, and the faded gilded ceilings
have not been renewed. When we made our last visit, during the heats of
early summer, the blossoms were as beautiful as ever, and the ghosts
were all there--we met them on the marble stairs: the European princes,
led by poor Eugénie; the sultanas, with their jewels and their band;
Ismail, with his drooping eyelids; and Sadyk, followed by the Nubian.


The present Khedive (or Viceroy) is thirty-eight years of age. Well
proportioned, with fine dark eyes, he may be called a handsome man; but
his face is made heavy by its expression of settled melancholy. It is
said in Cairo that he has never been known to laugh. But this must apply
to his public life only, for he is much attached to his family--to his
wife and his four children; in this respect he lives strictly in the
European manner, never having had but this one wife. He is a devoted
father. Determined that the education of his sons should not be
neglected as his own education was neglected by Ismail, he had for them,
at an early age, an accomplished English tutor. Later he sent them to
Geneva, Switzerland; they are now in Vienna. Tufik's chief interest, if
one may judge by his acts, is in education. In this direction his
strongest efforts have been made; he has improved the public schools of
Egypt, and established new ones; he has given all the support possible
to that greatest of modern innovations in a Mohammedan country, the
education of women. With all this, he is a devout Mohammedan; he is not
a fanatic; but he may be called, I think, a Mohammedan Puritan. He
receives his many European and American visitors with courtesy. But they
do not talk about him as they talked about Ismail; he excites no
curiosity. This is partly owing to his position, his opinions and
actions having naturally small importance while an English army is
taking charge of his realm; but it is also owing, in a measure, to the
character of the man himself. One often sees him driving. On Sunday
afternoons his carriage in semi-state leads the procession along the
Gezireh Avenue. First appear the outriders, six mounted soldiers; four
brilliantly dressed saises follow, rushing along with their wands high
in the air; then comes the open carriage, with the dark-eyed, melancholy
Khedive on the back seat, returning mechanically the many salutations
offered by strangers and by his own people. Behind his carriage are four
more of the flying runners; then the remainder of the mounted escort,
two and two. At a little distance follows the brougham of the
Vice-reine; according to Oriental etiquette, she never appears in public
beside her husband. Her brougham is preceded and followed by saises, but
there is no mounted escort. The Vice-reine is pretty, intelligent, and
accomplished; in addition, she is brave. Several years ago, when the
cholera was raging in Cairo, and the Khedive, almost alone among the
upper classes, remained there in order to do what he could for the
suffering people, his wife also refused to flee. She stayed in the
plague-stricken town until the pestilence had disappeared, exerting her
influence to persuade the frightened women of the lower classes to
follow her example regarding sanitary precautions. Tufik is accused of
being always undecided; he was not undecided upon this occasion at
least. It is probable that some of his moments of indecision have been
caused by real hesitations. And this brings us to Arabi.

Arabi (he is probably indifferent to the musical sound of his name) was
the leader of the military revolt which broke out in Egypt in 1881--a
revolt with which all the world is familiar, because it was followed by
the bombardment of Alexandria by the English fleet. Arabi had studied at
El Azhar; he knew the Koran by heart. To the native population he seemed
a wonderful orator; he excited their enthusiasm; he roused their
courage; he almost made them patriotic. The story of Arabi is
interesting; there were many intrigues mixed with the revolt, and a
dramatic element throughout. But these slight impressions--the idle
notes merely of one winter--are not the place for serious history. Nor
is the page completed so that it can be described as a whole. Egypt at
this moment is the scene of history in the actual process of making, if
the term may be so used--making day by day and hour by hour. Arabi has
been called the modern Masaniello. The watchword of his revolt was,
"Egypt for the Egyptians"; and there is always something touching in
this cry when the invaded country is weak and the incoming power is
strong. But it may be answered that the Egyptians at present are
incapable of governing themselves; that the country, if left to its own
devices, would revert to anarchy in a month, and to famine, desolation,
and barbarism in five years. Americans are not concerned with these
questions of the Eastern world. But if a similar cry had been
successfully raised about two hundred years ago on another
coast--"America for the Americans"--would the Western continent have
profited thereby? Doubtless the original Americans--those of the red
skins--raised it as loudly as they could. But there was not much
listening. The comparison is stretched, for the poor Egyptian fellah is
at least not a savage; but there is a grain of resemblance large enough
to call for reflection, when the question of occupation and improvement
of a half-civilized land elsewhere is under discussion. The English put
down the revolt, and sent Arabi to Ceylon, a small Napoleon at St.
Helena. The rebel colonel and his fellow-exiles are at present enjoying
those spicy breezes which are associated in our minds with foreign
missions and a whole congregation singing (and dragging them fearfully)
the celebrated verses. Arabi has complained of the climate in spite of
the perfumes, and it is said that he is to be transferred to some other
point in the ocean; there are, indeed, many of them well adapted for the
purpose. The English newspapers of to-day are dotted with the word
"shadowed," which signifies, apparently, that certain persons in Ireland
are followed so closely by a policeman that the official might be the
shadow. Possibly the melancholy Khedive is shadowed by the memory of the
exile of Ceylon. For Tufik did not cast his lot with Arabi. He turned
towards the English. To use the word again, though with another
signification, though ruler still, he has but a shadowy power.



Near the city gate named the Help of God, on the northeastern border of
Cairo, is the old mosque El Hakim. Save its outer walls, which enclose,
like the mosques of Touloun and Amer, a large open square, there is not
much left of it; but within this square, housed in a temporary building,
one finds the collection of Saracenic antiquities which is called the
Arab Museum.

This museum is interesting, and it ought to be beautiful. But somehow it
is not. The barrack-like walls, sparsely ornamented with relics from the
mosques, the straight aisles and glass show-cases, are not inspiring;
the fragments of Arabian wood-carving seem to be lamenting their fate;
and the only room which is not desolate is the one where old tiles lie
in disorder upon the floor, much as they lie on broken marble pavements
of the ancient houses which, half ruined and buried in rubbish, still
exist in the old quarters. Why one should be so inconsistent as to find
no fault with Gizeh, where rows of antiquities torn from their proper
places confront us, where show-cases abound, and yet at the same time
make an outcry over this poor little morsel at El Hakim, remains a
mystery. Possibly it is because the massive statues and the solid little
gods of ancient Egypt do not require an appropriate background, as do
the delicate fancies of Saracenic taste. However this may be, to some of
us the Arab Museum looks as if a New England farmer's wife had tried her
best to make things orderly within its borders, poor soul, in spite of
the strangeness of the articles with which she was obliged to deal. It
must, however, be added that the museum will not make this impression
upon persons who are indifferent to the general aspect of an aisle, or
of a series of walls--persons who care only for the articles which adorn
them--the lovers of detail, in short. And it is well for all of us to
join this class as soon as our feet have crossed the threshold. For we
shall be repaid for it. The details are exquisite.

The Arab Museum has been established recently. Every one is grateful to
the zeal which has rescued from further injury so many specimens of a
vanishing art. One covets a little chest for the Koran which is made of
sandal-wood. It is incrusted with arabesques carved in ivory, and has
broad hasps and locks of embossed silver. There are many koursis, or
small, stool-like tables; one of these has panels of silver filigree,
and fretted medallions bearing the name of the Sultan Mohammed ebn
Kalaoon, thus showing that it once belonged to the mosque at the Citadel
which was built by that Memlook ruler--the mosque whose minarets are
ornamented with picturesque bands of emerald-hued porcelain. The
illuminated Korans are not here; they are kept in the Public Library in
the Street of the Sycamores. Perhaps the most beautiful of the museum's
treasures are the old lamps of Arabian glass. In shape they are vases,
as they were simply filled with perfumed oil which carried a floating
wick; the colors are usually a pearly background, faintly tinged
sometimes by the hue we call ashes of roses; upon this background are
ornaments of blue, gold, and red; occasionally these ornaments are
Arabic letters forming a name or text. These lamps were made in the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; the glass, which has as marked
characteristics of its own as Palissy ware, so that once seen it can
never be confounded with any other, has a delicate beauty which is


Like the pyramids, Heliopolis belongs to Cairo. On the way thither, one
first traverses the pleasant suburb of Abbasieh. How one traverses it
depends upon his taste. The most enthusiastic pedestrian soon gives up
walking in the city of the Khedive save in the broad streets of the new
quarter. The English ride, one meets every day their gallant mounted
bands; but these are generally residents and their visitors, and the
horses are their own; for the traveller there are only the street
carriages and the donkeys. The carriages are dubiously loose-jointed,
and the horses (whose misery has already been described) have but two
gaits--the walk of a dying creature and the gallop of despair; unless,
therefore, one wishes to mount a dromedary, he must take a donkey. But
the "must" is not a disparagement; the white and gray donkeys of
Cairo--the best of them--are good-natured, gay-hearted, strong, and even
handsome. They have a coquettish way of arching their necks and holding
their chins (if a donkey can be said to have a chin), which always
reminded me of George Eliot's description of Gwendolen's manner of
poising her head in _Daniel Deronda_. George Eliot goes on to warn other
young ladies that it is useless to try to imitate this proud little air,
unless one has a throat like Gwendolen's. And, in the same spirit, one
must warn other donkeys that they must be born in Cairo to be beautiful.
Upon several occasions I recognized vanity in my donkey. He knew
perfectly when he was adorned with his holiday necklaces--one of
imitation sequins, the other of turquoise-hued beads. I am sure that he
would have felt much depressed if deprived of his charm against
magic--the morsel of parchment inscribed with Arabic characters which
decorated his breast. His tail and his short mane were dyed fashionably
with henna, but his legs had not been shaved in the pattern which
represents filigree garters, and whenever a comrade who had this
additional glory passed him, he became distinctly melancholy, and
brooded about it for several minutes. There is nothing in the world so
deprecating as the profile of one of these Cairo donkeys when he finds
himself obliged, by the pressure of the crowd, to push against a
European; his long nose and his polite eye as he passes are full of
friendly apologies. The donkey-boy, in his skull-cap and single garment,
runs behind his beast. These lads are very quick-witted. They have ready
for their donkeys five or six names, and they seldom make a mistake in
applying them according to the supposed nationality of their patrons of
the moment, so that the Englishman learns that he has Annie Laurie; the
Frenchman, Napoleon; the German, Bismarck; the Italian, Garibaldi; and
the Americans, indiscriminately, Hail Columbia, Yankee Doodle, and
General Grant.

In passing through the Abbasieh quarter, we always came, sooner or
later, upon a wedding. The different stages of a native marriage
require, indeed, so many days for their accomplishment that nuptial
festivities are a permanent institution in Cairo, like the policemen and
the water-carts, rather than an occasional event, as in other places.
One day, upon turning into a narrow street, we discovered that a long
portion of it had been roofed over with red cloth; from the centre of
this awning four large chandeliers were suspended by cords, and at each
end of the improvised tent were hoops adorned with the little red
Egyptian banners which look like fringed napkins. In the roadway, placed
against the walls of the houses on each side, were rows of wooden
settees; one of these seats was occupied by the band, which kept up a
constant piping and droning, and upon the others were squatted the
invited guests. Every now and then a man came from a gayly adorned door
on the left, which was that of the bridegroom, bringing with him a tray
covered with the tiny cups of coffee set in their filigree stands; he
offered coffee to all. In the meanwhile, in the centre of the roadway
between the settees, an Egyptian, in his long blue gown, was dancing.
The expression of responsibility on his face amounted to anxiety as he
took his steps with great care, now lifting one bare foot as high as he
could, and turning it sidewise, as if to show us the sole; now putting
it down and hopping upon it, while he displayed to us in the same way
the sole of the other. This formal dancing is done by the guests when no
public performers are employed. Some one must dance to express the
revelry of the occasion; those who are invited, therefore, undertake the
duty one by one. When at last we went on our way we were obliged to ride
directly through the reception, our donkeys brushing the band on one
side and the guests on the other; the dancer on duty paused for a
moment, wiping his face with the tail of his gown.

The road leading to Heliopolis has a charm which it shares with no other
in the neighborhood of Cairo: at a certain point the desert--the real
desert--comes rolling up to its very edge; one can look across the sand
for miles. The desert is not a plain, the sand lies in ridges and
hillocks; and this sand in many places is not so much like the sand of
the sea-shore as it is like the dust of one of our country roads in
August. The contrast between the bright green of the cultivated fields
(the land which is reached by the inundation) and those silvery,
arrested waves is striking, the line of their meeting being as sharply
defined as that between sea and shore. I have called the color silvery,
but that is only one of the tints which the sand assumes. An artist has
jotted down the names of the colors used in an effort to copy the hues
on an expanse of desert before him; beginning with the foreground, these
were brown, dark red, violet, blue, gold, rose, crimson, pale green,
orange, indigo blue, and sky blue. Colors supply the place of shadows,
for there is no shade anywhere; all is wide open and light; and yet the
expanse does not strike one in the least as bare. For myself, I can say
that of all the marvels which one sees in Egypt, the desert produced the
most profound impression; and I fancy that, as regards this feeling, I
am but one of many. The cause of the attraction is a mystery. It cannot
be found in the roving tendencies of our ancestor, since he was
arboreal, and there are no trees in the strange-tinted waste. The old
legend says that Adam's first wife, Lilith, fled to Egypt, where she was
permitted to live in the desert, and where she still exists:

    "It was Lilith, the wife of Adam;
    Not a drop of her blood was human."

Perhaps it is Lilith's magic that we feel.


Heliopolis, the City of the Sun, the On of the forty-first chapter of
Genesis, is five miles from Cairo. Nothing of it is now left above
ground save an obelisk and a few ruined walls. The obelisk, which is the
oldest yet discovered, bears the name of the king in whose reign it was
erected; this gives us the date--5000 years ago; that is, more than a
millennium before the days of Moses. At Heliopolis was the Temple of the
Sun, and the schools which Herodotus visited "because the teachers are
considered the most accomplished men in Egypt." When Strabo came hither,
four hundred years later, he saw the house which Plato had occupied;
Moses here learned "all the wisdom of the Egyptians." Papyri describe
Heliopolis as "full of obelisks." Two of these columns were carried to
Alexandria 1937 years ago, and set up before the Temple of Cæsar.
According to one authority, this temple was built by Cleopatra; in
any case, the two obelisks acquired the name of Cleopatra's Needles, and
though the temple itself in time disappeared, they remained where they
had been placed--one erect, one prostrate--until, in recent years, one
was given to London and the other to New York. One recites all this in a
breath in order to bring up, if possible, the associations which rush
confusedly through the mind as one stands beside this red granite column
rising alone in the green fields at Heliopolis. No myth itself, it was
erected in days which are to us mythical--days which are the jumping-off
place of our human history; yet they were not savages who polished this
granite, who sculptured this inscription; ages of civilization of a
certain sort must have preceded them. Beginning with the Central Park,
we force our minds backward in an endeavor to make these dates real.
"Homer was a modern compared with the designers of this pillar," we say
to ourselves. "The Mycenæ relics were _articles de Paris_ of centuries
and centuries later." But repeating the words (and even rolling the
_r's_) are useless efforts; the imagination will not rise; it is crushed
into stupidity by such a vista of years. As reaction, perhaps as
revenge, we flee to geology and Darwin; here, at least, one can take

Near Heliopolis there is an ostrich yard. The giant birds are very
amusing; they walk about with long steps, and stretch their necks. If
allowed, they would tap us all on the head, I think, after the fashion
of the ostriches in that vivid book, _The Story of an African Farm_.


Gerard de Nerval begins his volume on Egypt by announcing that the women
of Cairo are so thickly veiled that the European (_i.e._, the
Frenchman?) becomes discouraged after a very few days, and, in
consequence, goes up the Nile. This, at least, is one effort to explain
why strangers spend so short a time in Cairo. The French, as a nation,
are not travellers; they have small interest in any country beyond their
own borders. A few of their writers have cherished a liking for the
East; but it has been what we may call a home-liking. They give us the
impression of having sincerely believed that they could, owing to their
extreme intelligence, imagine for themselves (and reproduce for others)
the entire Orient from one fez, one Turkish pipe, and a picture of the
desert. Gautier, for instance, has described many Eastern landscapes
which his eyes have never beheld. Pictures are, indeed, much to
Frenchmen. The acme of this feeling is reached by one of the Goncourt
brothers, who writes, in their recently published journal, that the true
way to enjoy a summer in the country is to fill one's town-house during
the summer months with beautiful paintings of green fields, wild
forests, and purling brooks, and then stay at home, and look at the
lovely pictured scenes in comfort. French volumes of travels in the East
are written as much with exclamation-points as with the letters of the
alphabet. Lamartine and his disciples frequently paused "to drop a
tear." Later Gallic voyagers divided all scenery into two classes; the
cities "laugh," the plains are "amiable," or they "smile"; if they do
not do this, immediately they are set down as "sad." One must be bold
indeed to call Edmond About, the distinguished author of _Tolla_,
ridiculous. The present writer, not being bold, is careful to abstain
from it. But the last scene of his volume on Egypt (_Le Fellah_,
published in 1883), describing the hero, with all his clothes rolled
into a gigantic turban round his head, swimming after the yacht which
bears away the heroine--a certain impossible Miss Grace--from the
harbor of Port Said, must have caused, I think, some amused reflection
in the minds of English and American readers. It is but just to add that
among the younger French writers are several who have abandoned these
methods. Gabriel Charmes's volume on Cairo contains an excellent account
of the place. Pierre Loti and Maupassant have this year (1890) given to
the world pages about northwestern Africa which are marvels of actuality
as well as of unsurpassed description.

The French at present are greatly angered by the continuance of the
English occupation of Egypt. Since Napoleon's day they have looked upon
the Nile country as sure to be theirs some time. They built the Suez
Canal when the English were opposed to the scheme. They remember when
their influence was dominant. The French tradesmen, the French milliners
and dressmakers in Cairo, still oppose a stubborn resistance to the
English way of counting. They give the prices of their goods and render
their accounts in Egyptian piasters, or in napoleons and francs; they
refuse to comprehend shillings and pounds. And here, by-the-way,
Americans would gladly join their side of the controversy. England
alone, among the important countries of the world, has a currency which
is not based upon the decimal system. The collected number of sixpences
lost each year in England, by American travellers who mistake the
half-crown piece for two shillings, would make a large sum. The
bewilderment over English prices given in a coin which has no existence
is like that felt by serious-minded persons who read _Alice in
Wonderland_ from a sense of duty. Talk of the English as having no
imagination when the guinea exists!

France lost her opportunity in Egypt when her fleet sailed away from
Alexandria Harbor in July, 1882. Her ships were asked to remain and take
part in the bombardment; they refused, and departed. The English, thus
being left alone, quieted the country later by means of an army of
occupation. An English army of occupation has been there ever since.

At present it is not a large army. The number of British soldiers in
1890 is given as three thousand; the remaining troops are Egyptians,
with English regimental officers. During the winter months the
short-waisted red coat of Tommy Atkins enlivens with its cheerful blaze
the streets of Cairo at every turn. The East and the West may be said to
be personified by the slender, supple Arabs in their flowing draperies,
and by these lusty youths of light complexion, with straight backs and
stiff shoulders, who walk, armed with a rattan, in the centre of the
pavement, wearing over one ear the cloth-covered saucer which passes for
a head-covering. Tommy Atkins patronizes the donkeys with all his heart.
One of the most frequently seen groups is a party of laughing
scarlet-backed youths mounted on the smallest beasts they can find, and
careering down the avenues at the donkey's swiftest speed, followed by
the donkey-boys, delighted and panting. As the spring comes on, Atkins
changes his scarlet for lighter garments, and dons the summer helmet.
This species of hat is not confined to the sons of Mars; it is worn in
warm weather by Europeans of all nationalities who are living or
travelling in the East. It may be cool. Without doubt, æsthetically
considered, it is the most unbecoming head-covering known to the
civilized world. It has a peculiar power of causing its wearer to appear
both ignoble and pulmonic; for, viewed in front, the most distinguished
features, under its tin-pan-like visor, become plebeian; and, viewed
behind, the strongest masculine throat looks wizened and consumptive.


The English have benefited Egypt. They have put an end to the open
knavery in high places which flourished unchecked; they have taught
honesty; they have so greatly improved the methods of irrigation that a
bad Nile (_i.e._, a deficient inundation) no longer means starvation;
finally, they have taken hold of the mismanaged finances, disentangled
them, set them in order, and given them at least a start in the right
direction. The natives fret over some of their restrictions. And they
say that the English have, first of all, taken care of their own
interests. In addition, they greatly dislike seeing so many Englishmen
holding office over them. But this last objection is simply the other
side of the story. If the English are to help the country, they must be
on the spot in order to do it; and it appears to be a fixed rule in all
British colonies that the representatives of the government, whether
high or low, shall be made, as regards material things, extremely
comfortable. Egypt is not yet a British colony; she is a viceroyalty
under the suzerainty of the Porte. But practically she is to-day
governed by the English; and, to the American traveller at least
(whatever the French may think), it appears probable that English
authority will soon be as absolute in the Khedive's country as it is now
in India.

In Cairo, in 1890, the English colony played lawn-tennis; it attended
the races; when Stanley returned to civilization it welcomed him with
enthusiasm; and when, later, Prince Eddie came, it attended a gala
performance of _Aïda_ at the opera-house--a resurrection from the time
of Ismail ordered by Ismail's son for the entertainment of the
heir-presumptive (one wonders whether Tufik himself found entertainment
in it).

In the little English church, which stands amid its roses and vines in
the new quarter, is a wall tablet of red and white marble--the memorial
of a great Englishman. It bears the following inscription: "In memory of
Major-General Charles George Gordon, C.B. Born at Woolwich, Jan. 28,
1833. Killed at the defence of Khartoum, Jan. 26, 1885." Above is a
sentence from Gordon's last letter: "I have done my best for the honor
of our country."

St. George of Khartoum, as he has been called. If objection is made to
the bestowal of this title, it might be answered that the saints of old
lived before the age of the telegraph, the printer, the newspaper, and
the reporter; possibly they too would not have seemed to us faultless if
every one of their small decisions and all their trivial utterances had
been subjected to the electric-light publicity of to-day. Perhaps Gordon
was a fanatic, and his discernment was not accurate. But he was
single-hearted, devoted to what he considered to be his duty, and brave
to a striking degree. When we remember how he faced death through those
weary days we cannot criticise him. The story of that rescuing army
which came so near him and yet failed, and of his long hoping in vain,
only to be shot down at the last, must always remain one of the most
pathetic tales of history.


As the warm spring closes, every one selects something to carry
homeward. Leaving aside those fortunate persons who can purchase the
ancient carved woodwork of an entire house, or Turkish carpets by the
dozen, the rest of us keep watch of the selections of our friends while
we make our own. Among these we find the jackets embroidered in silver
and gold; the inevitable fez; two or three blue tiles of the thirteenth
century; a water-jug, or kulleh; a fly-brush with ivory handle; attar of
roses and essence of sandal-wood; Assiout ware in vases and stoups; a
narghileh; the gauze scarfs embroidered with Persian benedictions; a
koursi inlaid with mother-of-pearl; Arabian inkstands--long cases of
silver or brass, to be worn like a dagger in the belt; a keffiyeh, or
delicate silken head-shawl with white knotted fringe; the Arabian
finger-bowls; the little coffee-cups; images of Osiris from the tombs; a
native bracelet and anklet; and, finally, a scarab or two, whose
authenticity is always exciting, like an unsolved riddle. A picture of
these mementos of Cairo would not be complete for some of us without two
of those constant companions of so many long mornings--the dusty,
shuffling, dragging, slipping, venerable, abominable mosque shoes.


              "We who pursue
    Our business with unslackening stride,
      Traverse in troops, with care-fill'd breast,
    The soft Mediterranean side,
              The Nile, the East,
    And see all sights from pole to pole,
      And glance and nod and bustle by,
    And never once possess our soul
              Before we die."

So chanted Matthew Arnold of the English of to-day. And if we are to
believe what is preached to us and hurled at us, it is a reproach even
more applicable to Americans than to the English themselves. One
American traveller, however, wishes to record modestly a disbelief in
the universal truth of this idea. Many of us are, indeed, haunted by our
business; many of us do glance and nod and bustle by; it is a class, and
a large class. But these hurried people are not all; an equal number of
us, who, being less in haste, may be less conspicuous perhaps, are the
most admiring travellers in the world. American are the bands who
journey to Stratford-upon-Avon, and go down upon their knees--almost--when
they reach the sacred spot; American are the pilgrims who pay reverent
visits to all the English cathedrals, one after the other, from Carlisle
to Exeter, from Durham to Canterbury. In the East, likewise, it is the
transatlantic travellers who are so deeply impressed by the strangeness
and beauty of the scenes about them that they forget to talk about their
personal comforts (or, rather, the lack of them).

There is another matter upon which a word may be said, and this is the
habit of judging the East from the stand-point of one's home customs,
whether the home be American or English. It is, of course, easy to find
faults in the social systems of the Oriental nations; they have laws and
usages which are repugnant to all our feelings, which seem to us
horrible. But it is well to remember that it is impossible to comprehend
any nation not our own unless one has lived a long time among its
people, and made one's self familiar with their traditions, their
temperament, their history, and, above all, with the language which they
speak. Anything less than this is observation from the outside alone,
which is sure to be founded upon misapprehension. The French and the
English are separated by merely the few miles of the Channel, and they
have, to a certain extent, a common language; for though the French do
not often understand English, the English very generally understand
something of French. Yet it is said that these two nations have never
thoroughly comprehended each other either as nations or individuals; and
it is even added that, owing to their differing temperaments, they will
never reach a clear appreciation of each other's merits; demerits, of
course, are easier. Our own country has a language which is, on the
whole, nearer the English tongue perhaps than is the speech of France;
yet have we not felt now and then that English travellers have
misunderstood us? If this is the case among people who are all
Occidentals together, how much more difficult must be a thorough
comprehension by us of those ancient nations who were old before we were

[Illustration: SOUVENIRS OF CAIRO]

The East is the land of mystery. If one cares for it at all, one loves
it; there is no half-way. If one does not love it, one really (though
perhaps not avowedly) hates it--hates it and all its ways. But for those
who love it the charm is so strong that no surprise is felt in reading
or hearing of Europeans who have left all to take up a wandering
existence there for long years or for life--the spirit of Browning's
"What's become of Waring?"

All of us cannot be Warings, however, and the time comes at last when we
must take leave. The streets of Cairo have been for some time adorned
with placards whose announcements begin, in large type, "Travellers
returning to Europe." We are indeed far away when returning to Europe is
a step towards home. We wait for the last festival--the Shem-en-Neseem,
or Smelling of the Zephyr--the annual picnic day, when the people go
into the country to gather flowers and breathe the soft air before the
opening of the regular season for the Khamsin. Then comes the journey by
railway to Alexandria. We wave a handkerchief (now fringed on all four
sides by the colored threads of the laundresses) to the few friends
still left behind. They respond; and so do all the Mustaphas, Achmets,
and Ibrahims who have carried our parcels and trotted after our donkeys.
Then we take a seat by the window, to watch for the last time the flying
Egyptian landscape--the green plain, the tawny Nile, the camels on the
bank, the villages, and the palm-trees, and behind them the solemn line
of the desert.

At sunset the steamer passes down the harbor, and, pushing out to sea,
turns westward. A faint crescent moon becomes visible over the
Ras-et-Teen palace. It is the moon of Ramadan. Presently a cannon on the
shore ushers in, with its distant sound, the great Mohammedan fast.



    Sad eyes! the blue sea laughs, as heretofore.
    Ah, singing birds, your happy music pour;
        Ah, poets, leave the sordid earth awhile;
    Flit to these ancient gods we still adore:
        "It may be we shall touch the happy isle!"

    --_Translated by Andrew Lang._

Not long before Christmas, last year, I found myself travelling from
Ancona down the Adriatic coast of Italy by the fast train called the
Indian Mail. There was excitement in the very name, and more in the
conversation of the people who sat beside me at the table of a queer
little eating-house on the shore, before whose portal the Indian Mail
stopped late in the evening. We all descended and went in. A dusky
apartment was our discovery, and a table illuminated by guttering
candles that flared in the strong currents of air. Roast chickens were
stacked on this table in a high pile, and loaves of dark-colored bread
were placed here and there, with portly straw-covered flasks of the wine
of the country. No one came to serve us; we were expected to serve
ourselves. A landlord who looked like an obese Don Juan was established
behind a bench in a distant corner, where he made coffee with
amiability and enthusiasm for those who desired it. It was supposed
that we were to go to him, before we returned to the train, and pay for
what we had consumed; and I hope that his trust in us was not misplaced,
for with his objection to exercise, and his dim little lamp which
illuminated only his smiles, there was nothing for him but trust. The
Indian Mail carries passengers who are outward-bound for Constantinople,
Egypt, and India; his confidence rested perhaps in the belief that
persons about to embark on such dangerous seas would hardly begin the
enterprise by crime. To other minds, however, it might have seemed the
very moment to perpetrate enormities. As we attacked the chickens, I
perceived in the flickering glare that all my companions were English.
Everybody talked, and the thrill of the one American increased as the
names of the steamers waiting at Brindisi were mentioned--the
_Hydaspes_, the _Coromandel_, the _Cathay_, the _Mirzapore_: towards
what lands of sandal-wood, what pleasure-domes of Kubla-Khan, might not
one sail on ships bearing those titles! The present voyagers, however,
were all old travellers; they took a purely practical view of the
Orient. Nevertheless, their careless "Cairo," "Port Said," "Bombay,"
"Ceylon," "Java," were as fascinating as the shining balls of a juggler
when a dozen are in the air at the same moment. My right-hand neighbor,
upon learning that my destination was Corfu, good-naturedly offered the
information that the voyage was an easy one. "Corfu, however, is _not_
what it has been!"

"But, Polly, it is looking up a little, now that the Empress of Austria
is building a villa there," suggested a sister correctively.

After this outburst of talk, we all climbed back into the waiting train,
and went flying on towards the south, following the lonely, wild-looking
coast, with the wind from the Adriatic crying over our heads like a
banshee. It was midnight when we reached Brindisi. At present this, the
ancient Brundusium, is the jumping-off place for the traveller on his
way to the East; here he must leave the land and trust himself to an
enigmatical deep. But if he wishes to have the sensation in full force,
he must not delay his journey; for, presently, the Indian Mail will rush
through Greece and meet the steamers at Cape Colonna; and then, before
long, there will be another spurt, and Pullman trains will go through to
Calcutta, with a ferry over the Bosporus.

At Brindisi I became the prey of five barelegged boatmen, who, owing to
the noise of the wind and the water, communicated with each other by
yells. The Austrian-Lloyd steamer from Trieste, outward-bound for
Constantinople, which carried the friends I was expecting to meet, was
said to be lying out in the stream, and I enjoyed the adventure of
setting forth alone on the dark sea in search of her, in a small boat
rowed by my Otranto crew. During the transit there was not much time to
think of Brundusium, with its memories of Horace and Virgil. But there
was another opportunity to reflect upon the question, perplexing to the
unskilled mind--namely, Why it is that an American abroad is constantly
called upon to praise the wharves, piers, and landing-stages, and with
the same breath to condemn as disgraces to civilization the like
nautical platforms of his own country, when he is so often obliged, on
foreign shores, to embark and disembark by means of a tossing small boat
or a crowded tender, whereas at home, with the aid of those same
makeshift constructions for whose short-comings he is supposed to blush,
he walks on board of his steamship with no trouble whatever?

Early the next morning, awakening on a shelf in a red velvet cupboard, I
was explaining to myself vaguely that the cupboard was a dream, when
there appeared through the port-hole a picture of such fairy-tale beauty
that the dream became lyrical--it began to sing:

    "Far and few, far and few,
      Are the lands where the Jumblies live!"

At last those famous lines were actualities, for surely this was the sea
of the Jumblies, and those heights without doubt were "the hills of
Chankly Bore." (There are people, I believe, who do not care for the
Jumblies. There are persons who do not care for Alice in Wonderland, nor
for Brer Rabbit, when he played on his triangle down by the brook.)

The sea which I saw was of a miraculously blue tint; in the distance the
cliffs of a mountainous island rose boldly from the water, their color
that of a violet pansy; a fishing-boat with red sails was crossing the
foreground; over all glittered an atmosphere so golden that it was like
that of sunset in other lands, though the sky, at the same time, had
unmistakably the purity of early morning. Later, on the deck, during the
broadly practical time of after breakfast, this view, instead of
diminishing in attraction, grew constantly more fair. The French
novelist of to-day, Paul Bourget, describes Corfu as "so lovely that one
wants to take it in one's arms!" Another Frenchman, who was not given to
the making of phrases, no less a personage than Napoleon Bonaparte, has
left upon record his belief that Corfu has "the most beautiful situation
in the world." What, then, is this beauty? What is this situation?


First, there is the long and charming approach, with the snow-capped
mountains of Albania, in European Turkey, looming up against the sky at
the end; then comes the landlocked harbor; then the picturesque old
town, its high stone houses, all of creamy hue, crowded together on the
hill-side above the sea-wall, with here and there a bell-tower shooting
into the blue. Below is the busy, many-colored port. Above towers the
dark double fortress on its rock. And, finally, the dense, grove-like
vegetation of the island encircles all, and its own mountain-peaks rise
behind, one of them attaining a height of three thousand feet. There are
other islands of which all this, or almost all, can be said--Capri, for
instance. But at Corfu there are two attributes peculiar to the region;
these are: first, the color; second, the transparency. Although the
voyage from Brindisi hardly occupies twelve hours, the atmosphere is
utterly unlike that of Italy; there is no haze; all is clear. Some of us
love the Italian haze (which is not in the least a mist), that soft veil
which makes the mountains look as if they were covered with velvet. But
a love of this softness need not, I hope, make us hate everything that
is different. Greece (and Corfu is a Greek island) seemed to me all
light--the lightest country in the world. In other lands, if we climb a
high mountain and stand on its bald summit at noon, we feel as if we
were taking a bath in light; in Greece we have this feeling everywhere,
even in the valleys. Euripides described his countrymen as "forever
delicately tripping through the pellucid air," and so their modern
descendants trip to this day. This dry atmosphere has an exciting effect
upon the nervous energy, and the faces of the people show it. It has
also, I believe, the defect of this good quality--namely, an
over-stimulation, which sometimes produces neuralgia. In some respects
Americans recognize this clearness of the atmosphere, and its influence,
good and bad; the air of northern New England in the summer, and of
California at the same season, is not unlike it. But in America the
transparency is more white, more blank; we have little of the coloring
that exists in Greece, tints whose intensity must be seen to be
believed. The mountains, the hills, the fields, are sometimes bathed in
lilac. Then comes violet for the plains, while the mountains are rose
that deepens into crimson. At other times salmon, pink, and purple
tinges are seen, and ochre, saffron, and cinnamon brown. This
description applies to the whole of Greece, but among the Ionian Islands
the effect of the color is doubled by the wonderful tint of the
surrounding sea. I promise not to mention this hue again; hereafter it
can be taken for granted, for it is always present; but for this once I
must say that you may imagine the bluest blue you know--the sky, lapis
lazuli, sapphires, the eyes of some children, the Bay of Naples--and the
Ionian Sea is bluer than any of these. And nowhere else have I seen such
dear, queer little foam sprays. They are so small and so very white on
the blue, and they curl over the surface of the water even when the sea
is perfectly calm, which makes me call them queer. You meet them miles
from land. And all the shores are whitened with their never-ceasing
play. It is a pygmy surf.

It was eleven o'clock in the morning when our steamer reached her
anchorage before the island town. Immediately she was surrounded by
small boats, whose crews were perfectly lawless, demanding from
strangers whatever they thought they could get, and obtaining their
demands, because there was no way to escape them except by building a
raft. Upon reaching land one forgets the extortion, for the windows of
the hotel overlook the esplanade, and this open space amiably offers to
persons who are interested in first impressions a panoramic history of
two thousand five hundred years in a series of striking mementos. Let me
premise that as regards any solid knowledge of these islands, only a
contemptible smattering can be obtained in a stay so short as mine.
Corfu and her sisters have borne a conspicuous part in what we used to
call ancient history. Through the Roman days they appear and reappear.
In the times of the Crusaders their position made them extremely
important. Years of study could not exhaust their records, nor months of
research their antiquities. To comprehend them rightfully one must
indeed be an historian, an archæologist, and a painter at one and the
same time, and one must also be good-natured. Few of us can hope to
unite all these. The next best thing, therefore, is to go and see them
with whatever eyes and mind we happen to possess. Good-nature will
perhaps return after the opening encounter with the boatmen is over.

From our windows, then, we could note, first, the Citadel, high on its
rock, three hundred feet above the town. The oldest part of the present
fortress was erected in 1550; but the site has always been the
stronghold. Corinthians, Athenians, Spartans, Macedonians, and Romans
have in turn held the island, and this rock is the obvious keep. Later
came four hundred years of Venetian control, and I am ashamed to add
that the tokens of this last-named period were to me more delightful
than any of the other memorials. I say "ashamed," for why should one be
haunted by Venice in Greece? With the Parthenon to look forward to, why
should the lion of St. Mark, sculptured on Corfu façades, be a thing to
greet with joy? Many of us are familiar with the disconsolate figures of
some of our fellow-countrymen and countrywomen in the galleries of
Europe, tired and dejected tourists wandering from picture to picture,
but finding nothing half so interesting as the memory of No. 4699
Columbus Avenue at home. I am afraid it is equally narrow to be scanning
Corfu, Athens, Cairo, and the sands of the desert itself for something
that reminds one of another place, even though that place be the
enchanting pageant of a town at the head of the Adriatic. History,
however, as related by the esplanade, pays no attention to these
aberrations of the looker-on; its story goes steadily forward. The lions
of St. Mark on the façades, and another memento of the Doges--namely,
the statue of Count von der Schulenburg, who commanded the Venetian
forces in the great defence of Corfu in 1716--these memorials have as
companions various tokens of the English occupation, which, following
that of Venice, continued through forty-nine years--that is, from 1815
to 1863. Before this there had been a short period of French dominion;
but the esplanade, so far as I could discover, contains no memorial of
it, unless Napoleon's phrase can stand for one--and I think it can. The
souvenirs of the British rule are conspicuous. The first is the palace
built for the English Governor, a functionary who bore the sonorous
official name of Lord High Commissioner, a title which was soon
shortened to the odd abbreviation "the Lord High." This palace is an
uninteresting construction stretching stiffly across the water-side of
the esplanade, and cutting off the view of the harbor. It is now the
property of the King of Greece, but at present it is seldom occupied.
While we were at Corfu its ghostliness was enlivened for a while; Prince
Henry of Prussia was there with his wife. They had left their yacht (if
so large a vessel as the _Irene_ can be called a yacht), and were
spending a week at the palace. An hour after their departure entrance
was again permitted, and an old man, still trembling from the excitement
of the royal sojourn, conducted us from room to room. All was ugly.
Fading flowers in the vases showed that an attempt had been made to
brighten the place; but the visitors must have been endowed with a
strong natural cheerfulness to withstand with success such a mixture of
the commonplace and the dreary as the palace presents. They had the
magnificent view to look at, and there was always the graceful
silhouette of the _Irene_ out on the water. She could come up at any
time and take them away; it was this, probably, that kept them alive.

[Illustration: THE PALACE]


If the palace is ordinary, what shall be said of another memento which
adorns the esplanade? This is a high, narrow building, so uncouth that
it causes a smile. It looks raw, bare, and so primitive that if it had a
pulley at the top it might be taken for a warehouse erected on the bank
of a canal in one of our Western towns; one sees in imagination
canal-boats lying beneath, and bulging sacks going up or down. Yet this
is nothing less than that University of the Ionian Islands which was
founded by the Earl of Guildford early in this century, the epoch of
English enthusiasm for Greece, the days of the Philhellenes. Lord
Guildford, who was one of the distinguished North family, gave largely
of his fortune and of his time to establish this university.
Contemporary records speak of him as "an amiable nobleman." But after
seeing his touchingly ugly academy and his bust (which is not ugly) in
the hall of the extinct Ionian Senate at the palace, one feels sure that
he was more than amiable--he must have been original also. The English
are called cold; but as individuals they are capable sometimes of
extraordinary enthusiasms for distant causes and distant people.
Adventurous travellers as they are, does the charm lie in the word
"distant"? The defunct academy now shelters a school where vigorous
young Greeks sit on benches, opposite each other, in narrow, doorless
compartments which resemble the interior of a large omnibus; this, at
least, was the arrangement of the ground-floor on the day of our visit.
Although it was December, the boys looked heated. The teachers, who
walked up and down, had a relentless aspect. Even the porter,
white-haired and bent, had a will untouched by the least decay; he would
not show us the remains of the university library, nor the Roman
antiquities which are said to be stored somewhere in a lumber-room,
among them "fifty-nine frames of mosaic representing a bustard in
various attitudes." He had not the power, apparently, to exhibit these
treasures while the school exercises were going on, and as soon as they
were ended--instantly, that very minute--he intended to eat his dinner,
and nothing could alter this determination; his face grew ferocious at
the mere suggestion. So we were obliged to depart without seeing the
souvenirs of Lord Guildford's enthusiasm; and owing to the glamour which
always hangs over the place one has failed to see, I have been sure ever
since that we should have found them the most fascinating objects in

At the present school the teaching is done, no doubt, in a tongue which
would have made the old university shudder. In a letter written by Sir
George Bowen in 1856, from one of the Ionian Islands, there is the
following anecdote: "Bishop Wilberforce told me that he recently had, as
a candidate at one of his ordinations, Mr. M., the son of an English
merchant settled in Greece. 'I examined him myself,' said the bishop,
'when he gave what was to me an unknown pronunciation.' 'Oh, Mr. M.,' I
said, 'where _did_ you learn Greek?' 'In Athens, my lord,' replied the
trembling man." Classical scholars who visit Greece to-day are not able
to ask the simplest questions; or, rather, they may ask, but no one will
understand them. Several of these gentlemen have announced to the world
that the modern speech of Athens is a barbarous decadence. It is not for
an American, I suppose, to pass judgment upon matters of this sort. But
when these authorities continue as follows: "And even in pronunciation
modern Greek is hopelessly fallen; the ancients never pronounced in this
way," may we not ask how they can be so sure? They are not, I take it,
inspired, and the phonograph is a modern invention. The voice of Robert
Browning is stored for coming generations; the people A.D. 3000 may hear
him recite "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix." Possibly
the tones of Lord Salisbury and of Mr. Balfour are already garnered and
arranged in cylinders for the future orators of the South Seas. But we
cannot know how Pindar spoke any more than we can know the song the
Sirens sang; the most learned scholar cannot, alas! summon from the past
the articulation of Plato.


In the esplanade the period of English rule is further kept in mind by
monuments to the memory of three of the Lords High--a statue, an
obelisk, and (of all things in the world) an imitation of a Greek
temple. This temple--it is so small that they might call it a
templette--was erected in honor of Sir Thomas Maitland, a Governor whose
arbitrary rule gained for him the title of King Tom. The three memorials
are officially protected, an agreement to that effect having been made
between the governments of Great Britain and Greece. They were never in
danger, probably, as the English protection was a friendly one. In spite
of its friendliness, the Corfiotes voted as follows with enthusiasm
when an opportunity was offered to them: "The single and unanimous will
of the Ionian people has been and is for their reunion with the Kingdom
of Greece." England yielded to this wish and withdrew--a disinterested
act which ought to have gained for her universal applause. Since 1864
Corfu and her sister islands, happily freed at last from foreign
control, have filled with patriotic pride and contentment their proper
place as part of the Hellenic kingdom.

The esplanade also contains the one modern monument erected by the
Corfiotes themselves--a statue of Capo d'Istria. John Capo d'Istria, a
native of Corfu, was the political leader of Greece when she succeeded
in freeing herself from the Turkish yoke. The story of his life is a
part of the exciting tale of the Greek revolution. His measures, after
he had attained supreme power, were thought to be high-handed, and he
was accused also of looking too often towards that great empire in the
North whose boundaries are stretching slowly towards Constantinople; he
was resisted, disliked; finally he was assassinated. Time has softened
the remembrance of his faults, whatever they were, and brought his
services to the nation into the proper relief; hence this statue,
erected in 1887, fifty-six years after his death, by young Greece. It is
a sufficiently imposing figure of white marble, the face turned towards
the bay with a musing expression. Capo d'Istria--a name which might have
been invented for a Greek patriot! The Eastern question is a complicated
one, and I have no knowledge of its intricacies. But a personal
observation of the hatred of Turkey which exists in every Greek heart,
and a glance at the map of Europe, lead an American mind towards one
general idea or fancy--namely, that Capo d'Istria was merely in advance
of his time, and that an alliance between Russia and Greece is now one
of the probabilities of the near future. It is unexpected--at least, to
the non-political observer--that Hellas should be left to turn for help
and comfort to the Muscovites, a race to whom, probably, her ancient art
and literature appeal less strongly than they do to any other European
people. But she has so turned. "Wait till _Russia_ comes down here!" she
appears to be saying, with deferred menace, to Turkey to-day.

These various monuments of the esplanade do not, however, make Corfu in
the least modern. They are unimportant, they are inconspicuous, when
compared with the old streets which meander over the slopes behind them,
fringed with a net-work of stone lanes that lead down to the water's
edge. It has been said that the general aspect of the place is Italian.
It is true that there are arcades like those of Bologna and Padua; that
some of the byways have the look of a Venetian calle, without its canal;
and that the neighborhood of the gay little port resembles, on a small
scale, the streets which border the harbor of Genoa. In spite of this,
we have only to look up and see the sky, we have only to breathe and
note the quality of the air, to perceive that we are not in Italy. Corfu
is Greek, with a coating of Italian manners. And it has also caught a
strong tinge from Asia. Many of the houses have the low door and masked
entrance which are so characteristic of the East; at the top of the
neglected stairway, as far as possible from public view, there may be
handsome, richly furnished apartments; but if such rooms exist, the
jealous love of privacy keeps them hidden. This inconspicuous entrance
is as universal in the Orient as the high wall, shutting off all view of
the garden or park, is universal in England.


The town of Corfu has 26,000 inhabitants. Among the population are
Dalmatians, Maltese, Levantines, and others; but the Greeks are the
dominant race. There is a Jews' quarter, and Jews abound, or did
abound at the time of my visit. Since then fanaticism has raised its
head again, and there have been wild scenes at Corfu. Face to face with
the revival of persecution for religious opinions which is now visible
in Russia, and not in Russia alone, are we forced to acknowledge that
our century is not so enlightened as we have hoped that it was. I
remember when I believed that in no civilized country to-day could there
be found, among the educated, a single person who would wish to
persecute or coerce his fellow-beings solely on account of their
religious opinions; but I am obliged to confess that, without going to
Russia or Corfu, I have encountered within the last dozen years
individuals not a few whose flashing eyes and crimson cheeks, when they
spoke of a mental attitude in such matters which differed from their
own, made me realize with a thrill that if it were still the day of the
stake and the torch they would come bringing fagots to the pile with
their own hands.

In spite of these survivals, ceremonial martyrdom for so-called
religion's sake is, we may hope, at an end among the civilized nations;
we have only its relics left. Corfu has one of these relics, a martyr
who is sincerely honored--St. Spiridion, or, as he is called in loving
diminutive, Spiro. Spiro, who died fifteen hundred years ago, was bishop
of a see in Cyprus, I believe. He was tortured during the persecution of
the Christians under Diocletian. His embalmed body was taken to
Constantinople, and afterwards, in 1489, it was brought to Corfu by a
man named George Colochieretry. Some authorities say that Colochieretry
was a monk; in any case, what is certain is that the heirs of this man
still own the saint--surely a strange piece of property--and derive
large revenues from him. St. Spiro reposes in a small dim chapel of the
church which is called by his name; his superb silver coffin is lighted
by the rays from a hanging lamp which is suspended above it. When we
paid our visit, people in an unbroken stream were pressing into this
chapel, and kissing the sarcophagus repeatedly with passionate fervor.
The nave, too, was thronged; families were seated on the pavement in
groups, with an air of having been there all day: probably Christmas is
one of the seasons set apart for an especial pilgrimage to the martyr.
Three times a year the body is taken from its coffin and borne round the
esplanade, followed by a long train of Greek clergy, and by the public
officers of the town; upon these occasions the sick are brought forth
and laid where the shadow of the saint can pass over them. "Yes, he's
out to-day, I believe," said a resident, to whom we had mentioned this
procession. He spoke in a matter-of-fact tone. After seeing it three
times a year for twenty years, the issuing forth of the old bishop into
the brilliant sunshine to make a solemn circuit round the esplanade did
not, I suppose, seem so remarkable to him as it seemed to us. There is
another saint, a woman (her name I have forgotten), who also reposes in
a silver coffin in one of the Corfu churches. At first we supposed that
this was Spiro. But the absence of worshippers showed us our mistake.
This lonely witness to the faith was also a martyr; she suffered
decapitation. "They don't think much of _her_," said the same resident.
Then, explanatorily, "You see--she has no head." This practically minded
critic, however, was not a native of Corfu. The true Corfiotes are very
reverent, and no doubt they honor their second martyr upon her appointed
day. But Spiro is the one they love. The country people believe that he
visits their fields once a year to bless their olives and grain, and the
Corfu sailors are sure that he comes to them, walking on the water in
the darkness, when a storm is approaching. Mr. Tuckerman, in his
delightful volume, _The Greeks of To-Day_, says, in connection with this
last legend, that it is believed by the devout that seaweed is often
found about the legs of the good bishop in his silver coffin, after his
return from these marine promenades. There is something charming in this
story, and I shall have to hold back my hand to keep myself from
alluding (and yet I do allude) to a shrine I know at Venice; it is far
out on the lagoon, and its name is Our Lady of the Seaweed. The last
time my gondola passed it I saw that by a happy chance the high tide had
left seaweed twined about it in long, floating wreaths, like an

The name of the national religion of Greece is the Orthodox Church of
the East, or, more briefly, the Orthodox Church. Western nations call it
the Greek Church, but they have invented that name themselves. The
Orthodox Church has rites and ceremonies which are striking and
sometimes magnificent. I have many memories of the churches of Corfu.
The temples are so numerous that they seem innumerable; one was always
coming upon a fresh one; sometimes there is only a façade visible, and
occasionally nothing but a door, the church being behind, masked by
other buildings. My impressions are of a series of magnified
jewel-boxes. There was not much daylight; no matter how radiant the
sunshine outside, within all was richly dim, owing to the dark tints of
the stained glass. The ornamentation was never paltry or tawdry. The
soft light from the wax candles drew dull gleams from the singular
metal-incrusted pictures. These pictures, or icons, are placed in large
numbers along the walls and upon the screen which divides the nave from
the apse. They are generally representations of the Madonna and Child in
repoussé-work of silver, silvered copper, or gilt. Often the face and
hands of the Madonna are painted on panel; in that case the portrait
rises from metal shoulders, and the head is surrounded by metal hair.
The painting is always of the stiff Byzantine school, following an
ancient model, for any other style would be considered irreverent, and
nothing can exceed the strange effect produced by these long-eyed,
small-mouthed, rigid, sourly sweet virgin faces coming out from their
silver-gilt necks, while below, painted taper fingers of unearthly
length encircle a silver Child, who in His turn has a countenance of
panel, often all out of drawing, but hauntingly sweet. These curious
pictures have great dignity. The churches have no seats. I generally
took my stand in one of the pew-like stalls which project from the wall,
and here, unobserved, I could watch the people coming in and kissing the
icons. This adoration, commemoration, reverence, or whatever the proper
word for it may be, is much more conspicuous in the Greek places of
worship than it is in Roman Catholic churches. Those who come in make
the round of the walls, kissing every picture, and they do it fervently,
not formally. The service is chanted by the priests very rapidly in a
peculiar kind of intoning. The Corfu priests did not look as if they
were learned men, but their faces have a natural and humane expression
which is agreeable. In the street, with their flowing robes, long hair
and beards, and high black caps, they are striking figures. The parish
priest must be a married man, and he does not live apart from his
people, but closely mingles with them upon all occasions. He is the
papas, or pope, as it is translated, and a lover of Tourguenieff who
meets a pope for the first time at Corfu is haunted anew by those
masterpieces of the great Russian--the village tales across whose pages
the pope and the popess come and go, and seem, to American readers, such
strange figures.


In the suburb of Castrades is the oldest church of the island. It is
dedicated to St. Jason, the kinsman of St. Paul. St. Jason's appeared to
be deserted. Here, as elsewhere, it is not the church most interesting
from the historical point of view which is the favorite of the people,
or which they find, apparently, the most friendly. But when I paid my
visit, there were so many vines and flowers outside, and such a blue sky
above, that the little Byzantine temple had a cheerful, irresponsible
air, as if it were saying: "It's not my fault that people won't come
here. But if they won't, I'm not unhappy about it; the sunshine, the
vines, and I--we do very well together." The interior was bare, flooded
also with white daylight--so white that one blinked. And in this
whiteness my mind suddenly returned to Hellas. For Hellas had been
forgotten for the moment, owing to the haunting icons in the dark
churches of the town. Those silver-incrusted images had brought up a
vision of the uncounted millions to-day in Turkey, Greece, and Russia
who bow before them, the Christians of whom we know and think
comparatively so little. But now all these Eastern people vanished as
silently as they had come, and the past returned--the past, whose spell
summons us to Greece. For conspicuous in the white daylight of St.
Jason's were three antique columns, which, with other sculptured
fragments set in the walls, had been taken from an earlier pagan temple
to build this later church. And the spell does not break again in this
part of the island. Not far from St. Jason's is the tomb of Menekrates.
This monument was discovered in 1843, when one of the Venetian forts was
demolished. Beneath the foundations the workmen came upon funeral vases,
and upon digging deeper an ancient Greek cemetery was uncovered, with
many graves, various relics, and this tomb. It is circular, formed of
large blocks of stone closely joined without cement, and at present one
stands and looks down upon it, as though it were in a roofless cellar.
It bears round its low dome a metrical inscription in Greek, to the
effect that Menekrates, who was the representative at Corcyra (the old
name for Corfu) of his native town Eanthus, lost his life accidentally
by drowning; that this was a great sorrow to the community, for he was a
friend of the people; that his brother came from Eanthus, and, with the
aid of the Corcyreans, erected the monument. There is something
impressive to us in this simple memorial of grief set up before the days
of Æschylus, before the battle of Marathon--the commemoration of a
family sorrow in Corfu two thousand five hundred years ago. The
following is a Latin translation of the inscription:

    "Tlasiadis memor ecce Menecrates hoc monumentum,
     Ortum OEantheus, populus statuebat at illi,
     Quippe benignus erat populo patronus, in alto
     Sed periit ponto, totam et dolor obruit urbem.
     Praximenes autem patriis huc venit ab oris
     Cum populo et fratris monumentum hoc struxit adempti."

Two thousand five hundred years ago! That is far back. But it is not the
oldest date "in the world." Americans are accused of cherishing an
inordinate love for the superlative--the longest river, the highest
mountain, the deepest mine in the world, the largest diamond in the
world; there must always be that tag "in the world" to interest us. When
ancient objects are in question we are said to rush from one to the
next, applying our sole test; and we drop at any time a tomb or a
temple, no matter how beautiful, if there comes a rumor that another has
been discovered a little farther on which is thought to be a trifle more
venerable. Thus they chaff us--pilgrims from a land where Nature herself
works in superlatives, and where there is no antiquity at all. In Italy
our mania, exercising itself upon smaller objects than temples, brings
us nearer the comprehension (or non-comprehension) of the contemptuous
natives. "What hideous" (she called it hee-dee us) "things you _do_
buy!" I heard an Italian lady exclaim with conviction some years ago, as
she happened to meet three of her American acquaintances returning from
a hunt through the antiquity-shops of Naples, loaded with a battered
lamp, a square of moth-eaten tapestry with an indecipherable
inscription, and a nondescript broken animal in bronze, without head,
tail, or legs, who might have been intended for a dragon, or possibly
for a cow. After a while we pass this stage of antiquity-shops. But we
never pass the Etruscans, or, rather, I should speak for myself, and say
that I never passed them; I was perpetually haunted by them. There was
one road in particular, a lonely track which led from Bellosguardo (at
Florence) up a steep hill, and I was forever climbing this stony ascent
because, forsooth, it was set down on an Italian map as "the old
Etruscan way between Fiesole and Volterra," two strongholds of this
mysterious people. I was sure that there were tombs with strangely
painted walls close at hand, and when there was no one in sight I made
furtive archæological pokes with my parasol. In Italy an Etruscan tomb
seems the oldest thing "in the world." And at Corfu the unearthed Greek
cemetery became doubly interesting when I learned that among the relics
discovered there was a lioness couchant, concerning which the highest
authorities have said, "After the lions of the gates of Mycenæ, there is
no Greek sculpture older than this." (The lioness is now in the
vestibule of the palace in the esplanade.) This was exciting, for Mycenæ
is a name to conjure with still, in spite of the refusal of the learned
to accept, in all their extent, Dr. Schliemann's splendidly romantic
theories and dreams. But when one goes on to Egypt, to have searched at
all for that enticing "oldest" in Greece appears to have been a mistake.
For what is B.C. 1000, which the German authorities say is an
approximate date for the Mycenæ relics--what is that compared with King
Menes of the Nile, with his B.C. 4400 according to Brugsch-Bey, and B.C.
5000 according to Mariette? And there are rumors of civilized times far
older. But if we can bring ourselves to cease our chase after age and
turn to beauty, then it is not in the sands of Egypt that we must dig.
For beauty we must come to the clear light country of the gods.

But leaving history, some of us suffer greatly nowadays from mental
dislocations of another sort. The Mycenæ lions and the grim lioness of
Corfu are ascribed with a calmness which seems brutal to "pre-Homeric
times." Surely there were no pre-Homeric times except chaos. Surely
those were the first days of the world when all the men were
sure-footed, and all the women white-armed; when the sea was hollow (it
has remained that to this day), and when the heavenly powers interested
themselves in human affairs upon the slightest occasion. Leave us our
faith in them. It can be preserved, if you like, in the purely poetical
compartment of the mind. For there are all sorts of compartments: I have
met a learned geologist who turned pale when a mirror was broken by
accident in his house; I know a disciple of Darwin who always deprecates
instantly any reference to his good health, lest in some mysterious way
it should attract ill-luck. It seems to me, therefore, that the dear
belief that Homer's heroes began the world may coexist even with the
bicycle. (Not that I myself have much knowledge of this excellent
vehicle. But, its tandem wheels, swift and business-like, personify the
spirit of the age.)


At Corfu one is over one's head in the Odyssey. "The island is not what
it has been," said the English lady of the Indian Mail. It is not,
indeed! She referred to the days of the Lords High. But the rest of us
refer to Nausicaa; for Corfu is the Scheria of the Odyssey, the home of
King Alcinous. Not far beyond the tomb of Menekrates, at the point
called Canone, we have a view of a deep bay. On the opposite shore of
this bay enters the stream upon whose bank Ulysses first met the
delightful little maiden--"the beautiful stream of the river, where were
the pools unfailing, and clear and abundant water." And also (but this
is a work of supererogation, like feminine testimony in a court of
justice) we have a view of the Phæacian ship which was turned into stone
by Neptune: "Neptune s'en approcha, et, le frappant du plat de la main,
le changea en un rocher qu'il enracina dans le sol," as my copy of the
Odyssey, which happens rather absurdly to be a French one, translates
the passage. The ship, therefore, is now an island; its deck is a
chapel; its masts are trees. Of late the belief that Corfu is the
Scheria of the Odyssey has been attacked. Appended to the musical
translation of the episode of Nausicaa, which was published in 1890,
there is the following note: "It will be seen that the writer declines
to accept the identification of Corcyra, the modern Corfu, with Scheria.
In this skepticism he is emboldened by the protecting shield of the Ajax
among English-speaking Hellenists. See Jebb's Homer." It is not possible
to contest a point with Ajax. But any one who has seen the gardens and
groves of this lovely isle, who has watched the crystalline water dash
against the rocks at Palæokastrizza, who has strolled down the hill-side
at Pelleka, or floated in a skiff off the coast at Ipso--any such person
will say that Corfu is at least an ideal home for the charming girl who
played ball and washed the clothes on the shore, king's daughter though
she was. To quote the translation:

    "Father dear, would you make ready for me a wagon, a high one,
    Strong in the wheels, that I may carry our beautiful garments
                           ... to be washed in the river?"

One wishes that this primitive princess could have had another name.
Nausicaa; no matter how one pronounces the syllables, they are not
melodious. Why could she not have been Aglaia, Daphne, or Artemidora?
Standing at Canone and looking across at her shore, one is vexed anew
that she should have given her heart, or even her fancy, to Ulysses--a
man who was always eating. Instead of Ulysses, we should say Odysseus,
no doubt. That may pass. But the sentimental, inaccurate persons who
read Homer in English (or French) will not so easily consent to
Alkinoos. No; Alcinous (which reminds them vaguely of halcyon) will
remain in their minds as the name of the king who lived "far removed
from the trafficking nations," among his blossoming gardens in the
billowy sea; and to this faith will they cling. The clinging evidently
exists at Corfu. One of the most comical sights there is a modern
"detached villa," of course English, which might have come from
Cheltenham; it is planted close to the glaring road, and over its dusty
gate is inscribed imperturbably, "Alcinous Lodge."

[Illustration: VILLAGE OF PELLEKA]

One wonders whether the princesses of to-day (who no longer dry clothes
upon the shore) amuse their leisure hours with Homer's recitals
concerning their predecessors? One of them, at any rate, has chosen
Corfu as a place of sojourn; the Empress of Austria, after paying many
visits to the island, has now built for herself a country residence, or
villino, at a distance from the town, not far from Nausicaa's stream.
The house is surrounded by gardens, and from the terrace there is a
magnificent view in all directions; here she enjoys the solitude which
she is said to love, and the Corfiotes see only the coming and going
of her yacht. I don't know why there should be something so delightful,
to one mind at least, in the selection of this distant Greek island as
the resting-place of a queen, who takes the long journey down the
Adriatic year after year to reach her retreat. The preference is perhaps
due simply to fondness for a sea-voyage, and to the fact that a yacht
lying at Trieste lies practically at Vienna's door. Lovers of Corfu,
however, will not be turned aside by any of these reasons; they will
continue to believe that the choice is made for beauty's sake; they will
extol this perfect appreciation; they will praise this modern Nausicaa;
they will purchase her portrait in photographed copies. When they have
one of these representations, they can note with satisfaction the
accordance between its outlines and a taste in islands which is surely
the best in the world.


The casino of the Empress is not the only royal residence at Corfu.
About a mile from the town is the country-house called "Mon Repos," the
property of the King of Greece. King George and Queen Olga, with their
children, have frequently spent summers here. The mansion is ordinary as
regards its architecture--it was built by one of the Lords High. The
situation is altogether admirable, with a view of the harbor and town.
But the especial loveliness of Mon Repos is to be found in its gardens;
their foliage is tropical, with superb magnolias, palms, bananas, aloes,
and orange and lemon trees. There are flowers of all kinds, with roses
clambering everywhere, and blossoming vines. The royal family who rule,
or rather preside over, the kingdom of the Hellenes are much respected
and beloved at Corfu. The King, who was Prince William of Denmark--the
brother of the Czarina of Russia and of the Princess of Wales--took the
name of George when he ascended the throne in 1863. He was elected by
the National Assembly. Now that he has been reigning nearly thirty
years, and has a grandson as well as a son to succeed him, it is amusing
to turn back to the original candidates and the votes; for it was an
election (within certain limits) by the people, and all sorts of tastes
were represented. Prince Alfred of England, the Duke of Edinburgh, was
at the head of the list; but as it had been stipulated that no member of
the reigning families of England, France, or Russia should have the
crown, his name was struck off. There were votes for Prince Jerome
Napoleon. There were votes for the Prince Imperial. There were even
votes for "A Republic." But Greece, as she stands, is as near a republic
as a country with a sovereign can be. Suffrage is universal; there is no
aristocracy; there are no hereditary titles, no entailed estates; the
liberty of the press is untrammelled; education is free. Everywhere the
people are ardently patriotic; they are actively, and one may say almost
dangerously, interested in everything that pertains to the political
condition of their country. This interest is quickened by their acute
intellects. I have never seen faces more sharply intelligent than those
of the Greek men of to-day. I speak of men who have had some advantages
in the way of education. But as all are intensely eager to obtain these
advantages, and as schools are now numerous, education to a certain
extent is widely diffused. The men are, as a general rule, handsome. But
they are not in the least after the model of the Greek god, as he exists
in art and fiction. This model has an ideal height and strength, massive
shoulders, a statuesque head with closely curling hair, and an unruffled
repose. The actual Greek possesses a meagre frame, thin face, with high
cheek-bones, a dry, dark complexion, straight hair, small eyes, and as
for repose, he has never heard of it; he is overwhelmingly,
never-endingly restless. With this enumeration my statement that he
is handsome may not appear to accord. Nevertheless, he is a good-looking
fellow; his spare form is often tall, the quickly turning eyes are
wonderfully brilliant, the dark face is lighted by the gleam of white
teeth, the gait is very graceful, the step light. The Albanian costume,
which was adopted after the revolution as the national dress for the
whole country, is amazing. We have all seen it in paintings and
photographs, where it is merely picturesque. But when you meet it in the
streets every day, when you see the wearer of it engaged in cooking his
dinner, in cleaning fish, in driving a cart, in carrying a hod, or
hanging out clothes on a line, then it becomes perfectly fantastic. The
climax of my own impressions about it was reached, I think, a little
later, at Athens, when I beheld the guards walking their beats before
the King's palace, and before the simple house of the Crown Prince
opposite; they are soldiers of the regular army, and they held their
muskets with military precision as they marched to and fro, attired in
ordinary overcoats (it happened to be a rainy day) over the puffed-out
white skirts of a ballet-dancer. Robert Louis Stevenson, in one of his
recent letters from the South Seas, writes that "the mind of the female
missionary" (British) "tends to be constantly busied about dress; she
can be taught with extreme difficulty to think any costume decent but
that to which she grew accustomed on Clapham Common, and, to gratify
this prejudice, the native is put to useless expense." And here it
occurs to me that it is high time to explore this Clapham Common. We go
as worshippers to Shakespeare's Avon; we go to the land of Scott and
Burns; we know the "stripling Thames at Bablockhithe," where "the punt's
rope chops round"; but to Clapham Common we make, I think, no
pilgrimages, although it has as clearly marked a place in English
literature as the Land of Beulah or the Slough of Despond. I fancy that
Americans are not so closely tied to a fixed standard in dress as are
the missionaries who excite Mr. Stevenson's wrath. A half of our
population seeks its ideal in Paris, but as a whole we are easy-going.
We accept the Chinese attire in our streets without demur; the lack of
attire of the Sioux does not disconcert us; when abroad we admire
impartially the Egyptian gown and the Cossack uniform, and we adorn
ourselves liberally with the fez. But the Greek costume makes us pause;
it seems a bravado in whimsicality. One can describe it in detail: one
can say that it consists of a cap with a long tassel, a full white
shirt, an embroidered jacket with open sleeves, a tight girdle, the
white kilt or fustanella, long leggings with bright-colored garters,
and, usually, shoes with turned-up toes. The enumeration, however, does
not do away with the one general impression of men striding about in
short white ballet petticoats.

[Illustration: QUEEN OLGA OF GREECE]

In spite of their skirts, the Greeks have as martial an air as possible;
an old Greek who is vain, and they are all vain, is even a
fierce-looking figure. All the men have small waists, and are proud of
them; their belts are drawn as tightly as those of young girls in other
countries. From this girdle, or from the embroidered pouch below it,
comes a gleam which means probably a pistol, though sometimes it is only
the long, narrow inkhorn of brass or silver. Besides the Albanian, there
are other costumes. One, which is frequently seen, is partly Turkish,
with baggy trousers. The Greek men are vain, and with cause; if the
women are vain, it must be without it; we did not see a single handsome
face among them. It was not merely that we failed to find the beautiful
low forehead, full temple, straight nose, and small head of classic
days; we could not discover any marked type, good or bad; the
features were those that pass unnoticed everywhere. I speak, of
course, generally, and from a superficial observation, for I saw only
the people one meets in the streets, in the churches, in the fields,
olive groves, and vineyards, on the steamers, and at the house doors.
But after noting this population for two weeks and more, the result
remained the same--the men who came under our notice were handsome, and
the women were not. The dress of the women varies greatly. The Albanian
costume, which ranks with the fustanellas or petticoats of the men, is
as flat, narrow, and elongated as the latter are short and protruding.
It consists of a sheath-like skirt of a woollen material, and over this
a long, narrow white coat, which sometimes has black sleeves; the head
is wrapped in loose folds of white. This was the attire worn by the
girls who were at work in the fields. On Christmas Day I met a number of
Corfiote women walking about the esplanade arrayed in light-colored
dresses, with large aprons of white lace or white muslin, and upon their
heads white veils with bunches of artificial flowers; in addition, they
wore so many necklaces, pins, clasps, buckles, rings, lockets,
bracelets, pendants, and other adornments of silver and silver-gilt that
they clanked as they walked. This was a gala costume of some sort. We
did not see it again.

The island of Corfu is about forty miles long. Its breadth in the widest
part is twenty miles. The English, who have a genius for road-making
which is almost equal to that of the Romans, have left excellent
highways behind them; it is easy, therefore, to cross the island from
end to end. In arranging such an expedition, that exhaustive dialogue
about buying a carriage, which (to one's bewilderment) occupies by far
the most important place in all the Manuals of Conversation for the
Traveller, might at last be of some service.

"Have you a carriage?" it begins (in six languages).

"Yes; I have berlins, vis-à-vis, gigs, calashes, and cabriolets." (What
vehicles are these?)

"Are the axle-trees, the nave, the spokes, the tires, the felloes, and
the splinter-bars in good condition?" it goes on in its painstaking
polyglot. Possibly one might be called upon to purchase splinter-bars in
a remote island of the Ionian Sea.

Seated, then, in a berlin, or perhaps in a calash, one goes out at least
to visit the olive groves, if not to cross the island. These groves are
not the ranks of severely pruned, almost maimed, trees which greet the
traveller in parts of southern Europe--groves without shade, without
luxuriance; viewed from a distance, their gray-green foliage forms a
characteristic part of the landscape, but at close quarters they have
but one expression--namely, how many coins are to be squeezed out of
each poor tree, whose every bud appears to have been counted. At Corfu
one strolls through miles of wood whose foliage is magnificent; it is
possible to lounge in the shade, for there is shade, and to draw a free
breath. No doubt the Corfiotes keep guard over their leafy domain; but
the occasional visitor, at least, is not harassed by warnings to
trespassers set up everywhere, by children following him with suspicious
eyes, by patrols, dogs, stone walls, and sometimes by stones of another
kind which do not stay in the walls, but come flying through the air to
teach him to keep his distance. It is difficult, probably, for people
from the New World to look upon a forest as something sacred, guarded,
private; we have taken our pleasure "in the woods" all our lives
whenever we have felt so inclined; we do not intend to do any harm
there, but we do wish to be free. In the olive groves of Corfu the wish
can be gratified. Their aisles are wonderful in every respect: in the
size of the trees (some of them are sixty feet high), in the
picturesque shapes of the gnarled trunks, in the extent of the long
vistas where the light has the color which some of us know at home--that
silvery green under the great live-oaks at the South, when their
branches are veiled in the long moss.



But Athens was before us; we must leave the groves; we must leave
Nausicaa's shore. We did so at last in the wake of a departing storm.
For several days the wind had been tempestuous. The signal, which is
displayed from the Citadel, had become a riddle; it is an arrangement of
flags by day and of lanterns by night, and no two of us ever deciphered
it alike. If the order was thus and so, it meant that something
belonging to the Austrian-Lloyd company was in sight; if so and thus, it
meant the Florio line; if neither of these, then it might possibly be
our boat--that is, the Greek coasting steamer which we had decided to
take because we had been told that it was the best. I have never
fathomed the mystery as to why our informant told us this. If he had
been a Greek, it would have been at least a patriotic misrepresentation.
We were dismayed when we reached the rough tub. But, after all, in one
sense she was the best, for she dawdled in and out among the islands,
never in the least hurry, and stopping to gossip with them all; this
gave us a good chance to see them, if it gave us nothing else. I have
said "when we reached her," for there were several false starts. We rose
in the morning in a mood of regretful good-bye, expecting to be far away
at night. And at night, with our good-bye on our hands, we were still in
our hotel. But it is only fair to add that with its garlands of flowers
and myrtle for the Christmas season; with its queer assemblage of
Levantines in the dining-room; with its bath-room in the depths of the
earth, to which one descended by stairway leading down underground; with
its group of petticoated Greeks in the hall, and, in its rooms of honor
above, a young Austrian princess of historic name and extraordinary
beauty--with all this, and its cheerful lies, its smiling, gay-hearted
irresponsibility, the Corfu inn was an entertaining place. The Greek
steamer came at last. She had been driven out of her course by the gale,
so said the pirate, ostensibly retired from business, who superintended
the embarkations from the hotel. This lithe freebooter had presented
himself at frequent intervals during the baffling days when we watched
the signal, and he always entered without knocking. He could not grasp
the idea, probably, that ceremonies would be required by persons who
intended to sail by the coaster. When we reached this bark ourselves,
later, we forgave him--a little. Her deck was the most democratic place
I have ever seen. We think that we approve of equality in the United
States. But the Greeks carry their approval further than we do. On this
deck there were no reserved portions, no prohibitions; the persons who
had paid for a first-class ticket had the same rights as those which
were accorded to the steerage travellers, and no more; and as the latter
were numerous, they obtained by far the larger share, eating the
provisions which they had brought with them, sleeping on their
coverlids, playing games, and smoking in the best places. There was no
system, and little discipline; the sailors came up and washed the deck
(a process which was very necessary) whenever and however they pleased,
and we had to jump for our lives and mount a bench to escape the stream
from the hose, as it suddenly appeared without warning from an
unlooked-for quarter. The passengers, who came on board at various
points during a cruise of several days, brought with them light personal
luggage, which consisted of hens tied together by the legs, a live
sheep, kitchen utensils, and bedding, all of which they placed
everywhere and anywhere, according to their pleasure. A Greek dressed
in the full national costume accompanied us all the way to Missolonghi
so closely that he was closer than a brother; save when we were locked
in our small sleeping-cabins below (the one extra possession which a
first-class ticket bestows), we were literally elbow to elbow with him.
And his elbows were a weapon, like the closed umbrella held under the
arm in a crowded street--that pleasant habit of persons who are not
Greeks. The Greek elbow was clothed in a handsome sleeve covered with
gold embroidery, for our friend was a dandy of dandies. His petticoats
and his shirt were of fine linen, snowy in its whiteness; his small
waist was encircled by a magnificent Syrian scarf; his cream-colored
leggings were spotless; and his conspicuous garters new and brilliantly
scarlet. He was an athletic young man of thirty, his good looks marred
only by his over-eager eyes and his restlessness. It was his back which
he presented to us, for his attention was given entirely to a party of
his own friends, men and women. He talked to them; he read aloud to them
from a small newspaper (they all had newspapers, and read them often);
he stood up and argued; he grew excited and harangued; then he sat down,
his inflated skirts puffing out over his chair, and went on with his
argument, if argument it was, until, worn out by the hours of his
eloquence, some of his companions fell asleep where they sat. His meals
were astonishingly small. As everything went on under our eyes, we saw
what they all ate, and it was unmistakable testimony to the Greek
frugality. Our companion had brought with him from Corfu, by way of
provisions for several days, a loaf of bread about as large as three
muffins in one, a vial containing capers, a grapeleaf folded into a
cornucopia and filled with olives, and a pint bottle of the light wine
of the country. The only addition which he made to this store was a
salted fish about four inches long, which he purchased daily from the
steward. There was always a discussion before he went in search of this
morsel, which represented, I suppose, the roast meat of his dinner, and
when he returned after a long absence, bearing it triumphantly on the
palm of his hand, it was passed from one to the next, turned over,
inspected, and measured by each member of the group, amid the most
animated, eager discussion. When comment was at last exhausted, the
superb orator seated himself (always with his chair against our knees),
and placed before him, on a newspaper spread over the bench, his
precious fishlette divided into small slices, with a few capers and
olives arranged in as many wee heaps as there were portions of fish, so
that all should come out even. Then, with the diminutive loaf of bread
by his side and the bottle of wine at his feet, he began his repast,
using the point of his pocketknife as a fork, eating slowly and
meditatively, and intently watched by all his friends, who sat in
silence, following with their eyes each mouthful on its way from the
newspaper to his lips. They had previously made their own repasts in the
same meagre fashion, but perhaps they derived some small additional
nourishment from watching the mastication of their friend. When his fish
had disappeared, accompanied by one slender little slice of bread, our
neighbor lifted the wine-bottle, and gave himself a swallow of wine;
then, after a pause of a minute or two, another. This was all. The
bottle was recorked, and with the remaining provisions put carefully
away. All foreign residents in Greece, whether they like the people or
dislike them, agree in pronouncing them extraordinarily abstemious.
Drunkenness hardly exists among them.


At one of the islands a prisoner was brought on board by two policemen.
He was a slender youth--an apprentice to a mason, probably, for his poor
clothes were stained with mortar and lime. He held himself stiffly
erect, making a determined effort to present a brave countenance to the
world. He was led to a place in the centre of the deck, and then one of
his guardians departed, leaving the second in charge. The steamer lay in
the harbor for an hour or more, and four times skiffs put out from the
shore, each bringing two or three young men--or, rather, boys--who came
up the ladder furtively. Reaching the deck, they edged their way along,
first to the right, then to the left, until they perceived their
comrade. Even then they did not approach him directly; they assumed an
air of indifference, and walked about a little among the other
passengers. But after a while, one by one, they came to him, and, taking
bread from under their jackets, they put it hastily and silently into
his pockets, the policeman watching them, but not interfering. Then,
moving off quickly, they disappeared down the ladder in the same
stealthy way, and returned to the shore. Through all their manoeuvres
the prisoner did not once look at them; he kept his eyes fixed upon a
distant point in the bay, as though there was something out there which
he was obliged to watch without an instant's cessation. All his pockets
meanwhile, and the space under his jacket, grew so full that he was
swathed in bread. Finally came the whistle, and the steamer started.
Then, as the island began to recede, the set young face quivered, and
the arm in its ragged sleeve went up to cover the eyes--a touching
gesture, because it is the child's when in trouble, the instinctive
movement of the grief-stricken little boy.

Ten miles south of Corfu one meets the second of the Ionian Islands,
Paxo, with the tiny, severe Anti-Paxo lying off its southern point, like
a summary period set to any romantic legend which the larger isle may
wish to tell. As it happens, the legend is a striking one, and we all
know it without going to Paxo. But it is impossible to pass the actual
scene without relating it once more, and, for the telling, no modern
words can possibly approach those of the old annotator. "Here at the
coast of Paxo, about the time that our Lord suffered His most bitter
Passion, certain persons sailing from Italy at night heard a voice
calling aloud: 'Thamus?' 'Thamus?' Who, giving ear to the cry (for he
was the pilot of the ship), was bidden when he came near to Portus
Pelodes" (the Bay of Butrinto) "to tell that the great god Pan was dead.
Which he, doubting to do, yet when he came to Portus Pelodes there was
such a calm of wind that the ship stood still in the sea, unmoored, and
he was forced to cry aloud that Pan was dead. Whereupon there were such
piteous outcries and dreadful shrieking as hath not been the like. By
the which Pan, of some is understood the great Sathanas, whose kingdom
was at that time by Christ conquered; for at that moment all oracles
surceased, and enchanted spirits, that were wont to delude the people,
henceforth held their peace."

Those of us who read Milton's Ode on Christmas Eve will recall his
allusion to this Paxo legend:

    "The lonely mountains o'er,
    And the enchanted shore,
      A voice of weeping heard, and loud lament;
    From haunted spring and dale,
    Edged with poplar pale,
      The parting Genius is with sighing sent."


Anti-Paxo is one of the oddest spots I have seen. It is a small, bare,
stone plain, elevated but slightly above the surface of the water. The
rock is of a tawny hue, and there is a queer odor of asphaltum. At
certain seasons of the year it is covered so thickly with quail that
"you could not put a paper-cutter between them." There were no quail
when we passed the rock. The sun shone on the flat surface, bringing out
its rich tint against the azure of the sea, and in its strange
desolation it looked like a picture which might have been painted by a
man of genius who had gone mad in his passion for color. Though I
mention the Ionian group only, it must not be supposed that there were
no other islands. Those of us who like to turn over maps, to search out
routes though we may never follow them except on paper--innocent
stay-at-home geographers of this sort have supposed that it was a simple
matter to learn the names of the islands which one meets in any
well-known track across well-known seas. This is a mistake. From Corfu
to Patras, and, later, on the way to Egypt and Syria, and back through
the Strait of Messina to Genoa, I saw many islands--it seemed to me that
they could have been counted by hundreds--which are not indicated in the
ordinary guide-books, and whose names no one on the steamers appeared to
know, not even the captains. The captains, the pilots, and all the
officers were of course aware of the exact position in the sea of each
one; that was part of their business. But as to names, these mariners,
whether Englishmen, Germans, Italians, Turks, or Greeks (and we sailed
with all), appeared to share the common opinion that they had none;
their manner was that they deserved none. But I have never met a steamer
captain who felt anything but profound contempt for small islands; he
appears to regard them simply as interruptions--as some Ohio farmers of
my acquaintance regard the occasional single tree in their broad, level

Abreast of Paxo, on the mainland, is the small village of Parga. The
place has its own tragic history connected with its cession to the Turks
in 1815. But I am afraid that its principal association in my mind is
the frivolous one of a roaring chorus, "Robbers all at Parga!" This song
may be as much of a libel as that bold ballad concerning the beautiful
town at the eastern end of Lake Erie; the ladies of that place are not
in the habit of "coming out to-night, to dance by the light of the
moon," and in the same way there may never have been any robbers worth
speaking of at Parga. It is Hobhouse who tells the story. "In the
evening preparations were made for feeding our Albanians. After eating,
they began to dance round the fire to their own singing with an
astonishing energy. One of their songs begins, 'When we set out from
Parga, there were sixty of us.' Then comes the chorus: 'Robbers all at
Parga! Robbers all at Parga!' As they roared out this stave, they
whirled round the fire, dropped to and rebounded from their knees, and
again whirled round in a wild circle, repeating it at the top of their

    "'Robbers all at Parga!
    Robbers all at Parga!'"

At Parga we met the Byronic legend, which from this point hangs over the
whole Ionian Sea. Parga is not far from the castle of Suli, and with the
word "Suliote" we are launched aloft into the resplendent realm of
Byron's poetry, which seems as beautiful and apparition-like as the
Oberland peaks viewed from Berne--shining cliffs, so celestially and
impossibly fair, far up in the sky. (We may note, however, in passing,
that these lofty limits are, after all, as real as a barn-yard, or as an
afternoon sewing society.) The country near Parga is described at length
in the second canto of "Childe Harold."

[Illustration: GALA COSTUME, CORFU]

The third island of the Ionian group is Santa Maura, the Leucadia of the
ancients. It looks like a chain of mountains set in the sea. Here there
are earthquakes, as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu would have expressed
it. The story is that at Santa Maura and at Zante there is a severe
shock once in twenty years, and a "small roll" twice in every three
months. It is at least true that slight earthquakes are not uncommon,
and that the houses are built to resist them, with strong beams crossing
from side to side to hold the walls together, so that the interiors look
like the cabins of a ship. The rolling motion, when it comes, must make
this resemblance very vivid. The impression of Santa Maura which remains
in my own mind, however, does not concern itself with earthquakes,
unless, indeed, one means moral ones. I see a long, lofty promontory
ending in a silvery headland. I see it flushed with the rose-tints of
sunset, high above a violet sea. Of course I was looking for it; every
one looks for the rock from which dark Sappho flung herself in her
despair. But even without Sappho it is a striking cliff; it rises
perpendicularly from deep water, and it is so white that one fancies
that it must be visible even upon the darkest night. All day its
towering opaline crest serves as a beacon from afar. The temple of
Apollo which once crowned its summit can still be traced in sculptured
fragments, though there are no marble columns like those that gleam
across the waves from Sunium. "Leucadia's far-projecting rock of woe,"
Byron calls it. But it does not look woful. One fancies that exaltation
must flood the soul of the human creature who springs to meet Death from
such a place. The memory of the Greek poetess has nothing to do with
these reflections, unless one refers to the ladies who are announced to
the public from time to time as "the modern Sappho," in which case one
might suggest to them the excellent facilities the rock affords. As to
the greatest of women of letters, I do not know that there is anything
more to say about her in the language of the United States. If she had
flourished and perished last year, M. Jules Lemaître (her name would
have been Léocadie, probably) would doubtless have written an article
about her: "The career, literary and other, of Mademoiselle Léocadie, a
été des plus distinguées, bien qu'un peu tapageuse."

As the steamer crossed from Santa Maura to Cephalonia we had a clear
view of little Ithaca, the Ithaca which Ulysses loved, "not because it
was broad, but because it was his own." Except Paxo, Ithaca is the
smallest of the sister islands. The guide-book declares "No steamer
touches at Ithaca, but there is frequent communication by caique." This
announcement, like others from the same authority, is false, though it
may have been true thirty years ago. The very steamer that carried us
stopped regularly at the suitors' island upon her return voyage to
Corfu. We could not take this voyage; therefore we were free to wish
(selfishly) that this particular one, among the many deceptive
statements which we had read, might have been veracious. For
"communication by caique" is surely a phrase of delight. It brings up
not only the Ionian, but the Ægean Sea; it carries the imagination
onward to the Bosporus itself.

Sir William Gell and Dr. Schliemann between them have discovered at
Ithaca all the sites of the Odyssey, even to the stone looms of the
nymphs. Other explorers, with colder minds, have decided that at least
the author of the poem must have had a close acquaintance with the
island, for many of his descriptions are very accurate. We need no guide
for Penelope; we can materialize her, as the spiritualists say, for
ourselves. Hers is a very modern character. One knows without the
telling that she had much to say, day by day, about her sufferings, her
feelings, her duty, and her conscience--above all things, her
conscience. Her confidantes in that upper room were probably extremely
familiar with her point of view, which was that if she should choose
any one of her suitors, or if she should cruelly drive the whole throng
away, suicide on an overwhelming scale would inevitably be the result.
It would amount to a depopulation of the entire archipelago! Would any
woman be justified in causing such widespread despair as that?

The next island, Cephalonia, is the largest of the Ionian group. There
is much to say about it. But I must not say it here. The truth is that
one sails past these sisters as slippery Ulysses sailed past the sirens;
they are so beautiful that one must tie one's hands to the mast (or the
bench) to keep them from writing a volume on the subject. But I must
permit myself a word about Sir Charles Napier. Sir Charles was Governor
of Cephalonia during the period of the British Protectorate, and
officially he was a subordinate of the Lord High at Corfu. One of these
temporary kings appears to have felt some jealousy regarding the
vigorous administration of his Cephalonian lieutenant. It was not
possible to censure his acts; they were all admirable. It was
permissible, however, to censure a mustache, which at that time was
considered a wayward appendage, not strictly in accordance with the
regulations. Ludicrous as it may appear, it is nevertheless true that
this sapient Lord High actually issued an order saying that the
offending ornament must be shaved off. The witty lieutenant's answer was
conveyed in four words: "Obeyed--to a hair." Napier constructed good
roads throughout his rough, mountainous domain. "I wish I could be
buried at the little chapel on the top of the mountain," he said to one
of his friends. "At the last day many a poor mule's soul will say a good
word for me, I know, when they remember what the old road was." One
regrets that this wish was not carried out. But as for the souls of the
poor mules, I for one am sure that they will remember him.

At Zante, for some unexplained cause, the classic associations suddenly
vanished: Homer faded, Theocritus followed him; Pliny and Strabo
disappeared. The later memories, too: Lord Guildford and his university,
Byron and his Suliotes, Napier and his mules--all these left us. We were
back in the present; we must have some Zante flowers and Zante trinkets;
we thought of nothing but going ashore. By pushing a bench, with
semi-unconscious violence, against the Greek, we succeeded in making him
move a little, so that we could rise. Then we landed (but not in a
caique), and went roaming through the yellow town. Zante is the most
cheerful-looking place I have ever seen. The bay ripples and smirks; it
is so pretty that it knows it is pretty, and it smirks accordingly. The
town, stretching, with its gayly tinted houses, round a level semicircle
at the edge of the water, smiles, as one may say, from ear to ear. And
this joyful expression is carried up the hill, by charming gardens,
orange groves, and vineyards, to the Venetian fort at the top, which, as
we saw it in the brilliant sunshine, with the birds flying about it,
seemed to be throwing its cap into the sky with a huzza.

    "O hyacinthine isle! O purple Zante!
    Isola d'oro! Fior di Levante!"

sang Poe, borrowing his chimes this time, however, from an Italian
song--"Zante, Zante, fior di Levante!" This flower of the Levant exports
not flowers, but fruit. The currants, which had vaguely presented
themselves at Santa Maura and Cephalonia, came now decisively to the
front. One does not think of these little berrylettes (I am certainly
hunted by "ette") as ponderous. But when one beholds tons of them,
cargoes for ships, one regards them with a new respect. It was probably
the brisk commercial aspect of the currants which made the port look so
modern. All the Ionian Islands except Corfu export currants, but Zante
throws them out to the world with both hands. I must confess that I have
always blindly supposed (when I thought of it at all) that the currant
of the plum-pudding was the same fruit as the currant of our
gardens--that slightly acrid red berry which grows on bushes that follow
the lines of back fences--bushes that have patches of weedy ground under
them where hens congregate. I fancied that by some process unknown to
me, at the hands of persons equally unknown (perhaps those who bring
flattened raisins from grapes), these berries were dried, and that they
then became the well-known ornament of the Christmas-cake. It was at
Zante that my shameful ignorance was made clear to me. Here I learned
that the dried fruit of commerce is a dwarf grape, which has nothing in
common with currant jelly. Its English name, currant, is taken from the
French "raisin de Corinthe," or Corinth grape, a title bestowed because
the fruit was first brought into notice at Corinth. We have stolen this
name in the most unreasonable way for our red berry. Then, to make the
confusion worse, as soon as we have put the genuine currants into our
puddings and cakes, we turn round and call them "plums"! The real
currant, the dwarf grape of Corinth, is about as large as a gooseberry
when ripe, and its color is a deep violet-black; the vintage takes place
in August. It is not a hardy vine. It attains luxuriance, I was told,
only in Greece; and even there it is restricted to the northern
Peloponnesus, the shores of the Gulf of Corinth, and the Ionian Islands.
M. About, confronted with the 195,000,000 pounds of currants which were
exported in 1876, dipped his French pen afresh, and wrote: "Plum-pudding
and plum-cake are typical pleasures of the English nation, pleasures
whose charms the Gaul cannot appreciate." He adds that if other
countries should in time be converted to "these two pure delights,"
Greece would not need to cultivate anything else; she would become rich

Zante is the sixth of the islands, and as the steamer leaves her, still
smiling gayly over her dimpling bay, it seems proper to cast at least
one thought in the direction of the seventh sister, upon whom we are now
turning our backs. For "We are seven" the islands declare as
persistently as the little cottage girl, though the seventh has gone
away, if not to heaven, at least to the very end of the Peloponnesus.
Why Cerigo should have been included in the Ionian group I do not know;
it lies off the southernmost point of Greece, near Cape Malea, and might
more reasonably be classed with the Cyclades, or with Crete. Birthplace
of Aphrodite, Cythera of the ancients, though it is, I have never met
any one who has landed there in actual fact (I do not include dreams).
People going by sea to Athens from Naples, or from Brindisi, pass it in
their course, and if they read their Murray or their Baedeker, to say
nothing of other literature, no doubt their thoughts dwell upon the
goddess of love for a moment as they pass her favorite shore. A
photograph of the minds of travellers, as their eyes rest upon this
celebrated isle, would be interesting. To mention (with due respect)
typical names only, what would be the vision of Mr. Herbert Spencer, or
of Prince Bismarck? of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or of Ibsen? of
General Booth, Tolstoï, or Miss Yonge? We can each of us think of a list
which would rouse our curiosity in an acute degree. To come down to an
unexciting level, I know what the apparition in my own mind would
be--that picture in the Uffizi Gallery at Florence: Botticelli's "Birth
of Venus." I should inevitably behold the fifteenth-century goddess
coming over the waves in her very small shell; I should see her high
cheek-bones, her sad eyes, her discontented mouth, her lank form with
the lovely slender feet, and her long, thick hair; and at last I should
know (what I do not know now) whether she is beautiful or ugly. On the
shore, too, would appear that galloping woman, who, clothed in copiously
gathered garments which are caught up and tied in the wrong places,
brings in haste a flowered robe to cover her melancholy mistress. Such
are the idle fancies that come as one watches the track of churned
water, like a broad ribbon, stretching from the steamer's stern--water
forever fleeing backward as the boat advances. Scallops of foam sweep
out on each side; their cool fringe dips under a little as the wavelet
which comes from the opposite direction lifts its miniature crest and
curls over in a graceful sweep.

[Illustration: OLIVE GROVE, CORFU]

The voyage northward to Missolonghi is beautiful. The sea was dotted
with white wings. The Greeks are bold sailors; one never observes here
the timidity, the haste to seek refuge anywhere and everywhere, which is
so conspicuous along the Riviera and the western coast of Italy.
Throughout the Ionian archipelago, and it was the same later among the
islands of the Ægean, it was inspiring to note the smallest craft, far
from land, dashing along under full sail, leaning far over as they flew.

Missolonghi is a small abortive Venice, without the gondolas; it is
situated on a lagoon, and a causeway nearly two miles long leads to it,
across the shallow water. Vague and unimportant as it is upon its muddy
shore, it was the soul of the Greek revolution. It has been through
terrible sieges. During one of these Marco Botzaris was in command, and
his grave is outside the western gate. A few years ago all the
school-boys in America could chant his requiem; perhaps they chant it
still. After the death of Botzaris, Byron took five hundred of the
chieftain's needy Suliotes, and formed them into a body-guard, giving
them generous pay. This is but one of many instances. It is the fashion
of the day to paint Byron in the darkest colors. But when you stand in
the squalid, unhealthy little street where he drew his last breath you
realize that he came here voluntarily; that he offered his life if need
be, and, in the end, gave it, to the cause which appealed to him; he did
not stay safely at home and write about it. He died nearly seventy years
ago, but at Missolonghi he is very real and very present still--with his
red coat, and his bravery and penetration. Napier said that, of all the
Englishmen who came to assist the Greek revolution, Byron was the one
who comprehended best the character of the modern Greek--"all the rest
expected to find Plutarch's men." It is another fashion of the moment to
put aside as of small account the glittering cantos which stirred the
English-speaking world in the early days of this century. But it is not
while the wild, beautiful Albanian mountains are rising above your head
that you think meanly of them. "Remember all the splendid things he said
of Greece," says some one. When you are in Greece, you do remember.

The only brigands we saw we met at Patras. Missolonghi is on the
northern shore of the bay; to reach Patras the steamer crosses to the
Peloponnesus side. It was a dark night, and I don't know where we
stopped, but it must have been far out from land. The barges which came
to meet us were rough craft, with loose boards for seats and water in
the bottom. We obtained places in one of them, and after twenty minutes
of pitching up and down, shouting, tumbling about, and splashing, the
crew bent to their big oars, and we started. Swaying lights glimmered
through the darkness here and there; they came from vessels at anchor in
the roadstead. We plunged and rolled, apparently making no progress; but
at last a long, wet breakwater, dimly seen, appeared on the right, and
finally we perceived the lights of the landing-place, which is the
water-side of one of the squares of the town. Our crew jumped out in the
surf, and drew the heavy boat up to the steps of the embankment. Here
were assembled the brigands. There were a hundred of them at least, all
yelling. Probably they were astonished to see ladies landing from the
Greek coaster. This was part of our original misconception in the
selection of that steamer (a mistake, however, which had turned out to
be such a picturesque success); but it was part also of a general error
which came from our nationality. For we were natives of the one land on
earth where to women is always accorded, without question, a first
place. It had never occurred to us that we could be jostled. After
Patras we were more careful (and more proud of our country than ever).
But at the moment, as we were pulled first to the right by men who
wished to carry us and our travelling-bags in that direction, and then
to the left by others who had attacked the first party, felled them, and
captured their prey--at the moment when we were closely pressed by a
throng of wild-looking, dancing, shrieking figures, dressed in strange
attire, and carrying pistols, it was not a little alarming. The fray had
lasted six or seven minutes, and there were no signs of cessation, when
there appeared on the edge of the throng a neatly dressed little man in
spectacles. He made his way within, and rescued us by the simple process
of repeating something that sounded like "La, la, la, _la_! La, la, la,
_la_!" Breathless, freed, we stood, saved, in the square, while our
preserver went back and captured our bags, bringing them out and
depositing them gently, one after the other, on the ground by our side.
We then waited until a handcart, trundled by a petticoated porter,
appeared, when the little man led us quietly to the custom-house near
by, where, after some delay, we obtained our luggage, which was piled
upon the cart. Followed by this cart, we walked across the square to the
hotel. Throughout the whole of this process, which lasted twenty
minutes, the brigands surrounded us in a close, scowling circle that
moved as we moved. When its line drew too near us the little man walked
round the ring--"La, la, la, _la_! La, la, la, _la_!"--and it widened
slightly, but only slightly. We reached refuge at last, and escaped into
a lighted hall. It was a real escape, and the hotel seemed a paradise.
It was not until the next day that we recognized it as a mortal inn,
with the appearance of the well-known tepid soup in the dining-room; but
the coffee was excellent. And this showed that there was a German
influence somewhere in the house; it proved to emanate from our
preserver, who was also the landlord, and an exile from the Rhine. I
think he was homesick. But at least he had learned the dialect of his
temporary abode, and also the way to treat the last remnants of the
pirate and brigand days, as its spirit reappears now and then, though
faintly, among the hangers-on of a Greek port town.

Though I have talked of brigands, for Greece as a whole, for the young
nation, I have but one feeling--namely, admiration. The country,
escaping at last from its bondage to Turkey, after a long and exhausting
war, had everything to do and nothing to do it with. There was no
agriculture, no commerce, no money, and only a small population; there
were no roads, no schools, no industries or trades, and few men of
education. (I quote the words of Mr. Shaw-Lefevre, written in 1891.) The
Greeks have done much, and under the most unfavorable conditions. They
will do more. The struggle upward of an intelligent and ambitious people
is deeply interesting, and the effort in Greece appeals especially to
Americans, because the country, in spite of its form of government, is a

When we left Patras we left the Ionian Sea, and I ought therefore to
bring these slight records to a close. But it was the same blue water,
after all, that was washing the shores of the long, lake-like gulf
beyond, and the impression produced by its pure, early-world tint, lasts
as far as Corinth; here one turns inland, and the next crested waves
which one meets are Ægean. They rouse other sensations.

There is now a railroad from Patras to Athens. On the morning when we
made the transit there was given to us for our sole use a saloon on
wheels, which was much larger than the compartments of an English
railway carriage, and smaller than an American parlor car. In its centre
was a long table, and a cushioned bench ran round its four sides; broad
windows gave us a wide view of the landscape as we rolled (rather
slowly) along. The track follows the gulf all the way to Corinth, and we
passed through miles of vineyards. But I did not think of currants here;
they had been left behind at Zante. There is, indeed, only one thing to
think of, and the heart beats quickly as Parnassus lifts its head above
the other snow-clad summits. "The prophetess of Delphi was hypnotized,
of course." This sudden incursion of modernity was due no doubt to the
mode of our progress through this sacred country. We ought to have been
crossing the gulf in a Phæacian boat, which needs no pilot, or, at the
very least, in a bark with an azure prow. But even upon an iron track,
through utilitarian currant fields, the spell descends again when the
second peak becomes visible at the eastern end of the bay.

    "Not here, O Apollo!
      Are haunts meet for thee,
    But where Helicon breaks down
      In cliff to the sea--"

How many times, in lands far from here, had I read these lines for their
mere beauty, without hope of more!

And now before my eyes was Helicon itself.



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