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    Chapter 57

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    Chapter 58
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    It was worth a kingdom to be at sea again. It was a relief to drop all
    anxiety whatsoever--all questions as to where we should go; how long we
    should stay; whether it were worth while to go or not; all anxieties
    about the condition of the horses; all such questions as "Shall we ever
    get to water?" "Shall we ever lunch?" "Ferguson, how many more million
    miles have we got to creep under this awful sun before we camp?" It was
    a relief to cast all these torturing little anxieties far away--ropes of
    steel they were, and every one with a separate and distinct strain on it
    --and feel the temporary contentment that is born of the banishment of
    all care and responsibility. We did not look at the compass: we did not
    care, now, where the ship went to, so that she went out of sight of land
    as quickly as possible. When I travel again, I wish to go in a pleasure
    ship. No amount of money could have purchased for us, in a strange
    vessel and among unfamiliar faces, the perfect satisfaction and the sense
    of being at home again which we experienced when we stepped on board the
    "Quaker City,"--our own ship--after this wearisome pilgrimage. It is a
    something we have felt always when we returned to her, and a something we
    had no desire to sell.

    We took off our blue woollen shirts, our spurs, and heavy boots, our
    sanguinary revolvers and our buckskin-seated pantaloons, and got shaved
    and came out in Christian costume once more. All but Jack, who changed
    all other articles of his dress, but clung to his traveling pantaloons.
    They still preserved their ample buckskin seat intact; and so his short
    pea jacket and his long, thin legs assisted to make him a picturesque
    object whenever he stood on the forecastle looking abroad upon the ocean
    over the bows. At such times his father's last injunction suggested
    itself to me. He said:

    "Jack, my boy, you are about to go among a brilliant company of gentlemen
    and ladies, who are refined and cultivated, and thoroughly accomplished
    in the manners and customs of good society. Listen to their
    conversation, study their habits of life, and learn. Be polite and
    obliging to all, and considerate towards every one's opinions, failings
    and prejudices. Command the just respect of all your fellow-voyagers,
    even though you fail to win their friendly regard. And Jack--don't you
    ever dare, while you live, appear in public on those decks in fair
    weather, in a costume unbecoming your mother's drawing-room!"

    It would have been worth any price if the father of this hopeful youth
    could have stepped on board some time, and seen him standing high on the
    fore-castle, pea jacket, tasseled red fez, buckskin patch and all,
    placidly contemplating the ocean--a rare spectacle for any body's
    drawing-room.

    After a pleasant voyage and a good rest, we drew near to Egypt and out of
    the mellowest of sunsets we saw the domes and minarets of Alexandria rise
    into view. As soon as the anchor was down, Jack and I got a boat and
    went ashore. It was night by this time, and the other passengers were
    content to remain at home and visit ancient Egypt after breakfast. It
    was the way they did at Constantinople. They took a lively interest in
    new countries, but their school-boy impatience had worn off, and they had
    learned that it was wisdom to take things easy and go along comfortably
    --these old countries do not go away in the night; they stay till after
    breakfast.

    When we reached the pier we found an army of Egyptian boys with donkeys
    no larger than themselves, waiting for passengers--for donkeys are the
    omnibuses of Egypt. We preferred to walk, but we could not have our own
    way. The boys crowded about us, clamored around us, and slewed their
    donkeys exactly across our path, no matter which way we turned. They
    were good-natured rascals, and so were the donkeys. We mounted, and the
    boys ran behind us and kept the donkeys in a furious gallop, as is the
    fashion at Damascus. I believe I would rather ride a donkey than any
    beast in the world. He goes briskly, he puts on no airs, he is docile,
    though opinionated. Satan himself could not scare him, and he is
    convenient--very convenient. When you are tired riding you can rest your
    feet on the ground and let him gallop from under you.

    We found the hotel and secured rooms, and were happy to know that the
    Prince of Wales had stopped there once. They had it every where on
    signs. No other princes had stopped there since, till Jack and I came.
    We went abroad through the town, then, and found it a city of huge
    commercial buildings, and broad, handsome streets brilliant with
    gas-light. By night it was a sort of reminiscence of Paris. But finally
    Jack found an ice-cream saloon, and that closed investigations for that
    evening. The weather was very hot, it had been many a day since Jack had
    seen ice-cream, and so it was useless to talk of leaving the saloon till
    it shut up.

    In the morning the lost tribes of America came ashore and infested the
    hotels and took possession of all the donkeys and other open barouches
    that offered. They went in picturesque procession to the American
    Consul's; to the great gardens; to Cleopatra's Needles; to Pompey's
    Pillar; to the palace of the Viceroy of Egypt; to the Nile; to the superb
    groves of date-palms. One of our most inveterate relic-hunters had his
    hammer with him, and tried to break a fragment off the upright Needle and
    could not do it; he tried the prostrate one and failed; he borrowed a
    heavy sledge hammer from a mason and tried again. He tried Pompey's
    Pillar, and this baffled him. Scattered all about the mighty monolith
    were sphinxes of noble countenance, carved out of Egyptian granite as
    hard as blue steel, and whose shapely features the wear of five thousand
    years had failed to mark or mar. The relic-hunter battered at these
    persistently, and sweated profusely over his work. He might as well have
    attempted to deface the moon. They regarded him serenely with the
    stately smile they had worn so long, and which seemed to say, "Peck away,
    poor insect; we were not made to fear such as you; in ten-score dragging
    ages we have seen more of your kind than there are sands at your feet:
    have they left a blemish upon us?"

    But I am forgetting the Jaffa Colonists. At Jaffa we had taken on board
    some forty members of a very celebrated community. They were male and
    female; babies, young boys and young girls; young married people, and
    some who had passed a shade beyond the prime of life. I refer to the
    "Adams Jaffa Colony." Others had deserted before. We left in Jaffa Mr.
    Adams, his wife, and fifteen unfortunates who not only had no money but
    did not know where to turn or whither to go. Such was the statement made
    to us. Our forty were miserable enough in the first place, and they lay
    about the decks seasick all the voyage, which about completed their
    misery, I take it. However, one or two young men remained upright, and
    by constant persecution we wormed out of them some little information.
    They gave it reluctantly and in a very fragmentary condition, for, having
    been shamefully humbugged by their prophet, they felt humiliated and
    unhappy. In such circumstances people do not like to talk.

    The colony was a complete fiasco. I have already said that such as could
    get away did so, from time to time. The prophet Adams--once an actor,
    then several other things, afterward a Mormon and a missionary, always an
    adventurer--remains at Jaffa with his handful of sorrowful subjects. The
    forty we brought away with us were chiefly destitute, though not all of
    them. They wished to get to Egypt. What might become of them then they
    did not know and probably did not care--any thing to get away from hated
    Jaffa. They had little to hope for. Because after many appeals to the
    sympathies of New England, made by strangers of Boston, through the
    newspapers, and after the establishment of an office there for the
    reception of moneyed contributions for the Jaffa colonists, One Dollar
    was subscribed. The consul-general for Egypt showed me the newspaper
    paragraph which mentioned the circumstance and mentioned also the
    discontinuance of the effort and the closing of the office. It was
    evident that practical New England was not sorry to be rid of such
    visionaries and was not in the least inclined to hire any body to bring
    them back to her. Still, to get to Egypt, was something, in the eyes of
    the unfortunate colonists, hopeless as the prospect seemed of ever
    getting further.

    Thus circumstanced, they landed at Alexandria from our ship. One of our
    passengers, Mr. Moses S. Beach, of the New York Sun, inquired of the
    consul-general what it would cost to send these people to their home in
    Maine by the way of Liverpool, and he said fifteen hundred dollars in
    gold would do it. Mr. Beach gave his check for the money and so the
    troubles of the Jaffa colonists were at an end.--[It was an unselfish
    act of benevolence; it was done without any ostentation, and has never
    been mentioned in any newspaper, I think. Therefore it is refreshing to
    learn now, several months after the above narrative was written, that
    another man received all the credit of this rescue of the colonists.
    Such is life.]

    Alexandria was too much like a European city to be novel, and we soon
    tired of it. We took the cars and came up here to ancient Cairo, which
    is an Oriental city and of the completest pattern. There is little about
    it to disabuse one's mind of the error if he should take it into his head
    that he was in the heart of Arabia. Stately camels and dromedaries,
    swarthy Egyptians, and likewise Turks and black Ethiopians, turbaned,
    sashed, and blazing in a rich variety of Oriental costumes of all shades
    of flashy colors, are what one sees on every hand crowding the narrow
    streets and the honeycombed bazaars. We are stopping at Shepherd's
    Hotel, which is the worst on earth except the one I stopped at once in a
    small town in the United States. It is pleasant to read this sketch in
    my note-book, now, and know that I can stand Shepherd's Hotel, sure,
    because I have been in one just like it in America and survived:

    I stopped at the Benton House. It used to be a good hotel, but that
    proves nothing--I used to be a good boy, for that matter. Both of
    us have lost character of late years. The Benton is not a good
    hotel. The Benton lacks a very great deal of being a good hotel.
    Perdition is full of better hotels than the Benton.

    It was late at night when I got there, and I told the clerk I would
    like plenty of lights, because I wanted to read an hour or two.
    When I reached No. 15 with the porter (we came along a dim hall that
    was clad in ancient carpeting, faded, worn out in many places, and
    patched with old scraps of oil cloth--a hall that sank under one's
    feet, and creaked dismally to every footstep,) he struck a light
    --two inches of sallow, sorrowful, consumptive tallow candle, that
    burned blue, and sputtered, and got discouraged and went out. The
    porter lit it again, and I asked if that was all the light the clerk
    sent. He said, "Oh no, I've got another one here," and he produced
    another couple of inches of tallow candle. I said, "Light them both
    --I'll have to have one to see the other by." He did it, but the
    result was drearier than darkness itself. He was a cheery,
    accommodating rascal. He said he would go "somewheres" and steal a
    lamp. I abetted and encouraged him in his criminal design. I heard
    the landlord get after him in the hall ten minutes afterward.

    "Where are you going with that lamp?"

    "Fifteen wants it, sir."

    "Fifteen! why he's got a double lot of candles--does the man want
    to illuminate the house?--does he want to get up a torch-light
    procession?--what is he up to, any how?"

    "He don't like them candles--says he wants a lamp."

    "Why what in the nation does----why I never heard of such a thing?
    What on earth can he want with that lamp?"

    "Well, he only wants to read--that's what he says."

    "Wants to read, does he?--ain't satisfied with a thousand candles,
    but has to have a lamp!--I do wonder what the devil that fellow
    wants that lamp for? Take him another candle, and then if----"

    "But he wants the lamp--says he'll burn the d--d old house down if
    he don't get a lamp!" (a remark which I never made.)

    "I'd like to see him at it once. Well, you take it along--but I
    swear it beats my time, though--and see if you can't find out what
    in the very nation he wants with that lamp."

    And he went off growling to himself and still wondering and
    wondering over the unaccountable conduct of No. 15. The lamp was a
    good one, but it revealed some disagreeable things--a bed in the
    suburbs of a desert of room--a bed that had hills and valleys in it,
    and you'd have to accommodate your body to the impression left in it
    by the man that slept there last, before you could lie comfortably;
    a carpet that had seen better days; a melancholy washstand in a
    remote corner, and a dejected pitcher on it sorrowing over a broken
    nose; a looking-glass split across the centre, which chopped your
    head off at the chin and made you look like some dreadful unfinished
    monster or other; the paper peeling in shreds from the walls.

    I sighed and said: "This is charming; and now don't you think you
    could get me something to read?"

    The porter said, "Oh, certainly; the old man's got dead loads of
    books;" and he was gone before I could tell him what sort of
    literature I would rather have. And yet his countenance expressed
    the utmost confidence in his ability to execute the commission with
    credit to himself. The old man made a descent on him.

    "What are you going to do with that pile of books?"

    "Fifteen wants 'em, sir."

    "Fifteen, is it? He'll want a warming-pan, next--he'll want a
    nurse! Take him every thing there is in the house--take him the
    bar-keeper--take him the baggage-wagon--take him a chamber-maid!
    Confound me, I never saw any thing like it. What did he say he
    wants with those books?"

    "Wants to read 'em, like enough; it ain't likely he wants to eat
    'em, I don't reckon."

    "Wants to read 'em--wants to read 'em this time of night, the
    infernal lunatic! Well, he can't have them."

    "But he says he's mor'ly bound to have 'em; he says he'll just go
    a-rairin' and a-chargin' through this house and raise more--well,
    there's no tellin' what he won't do if he don't get 'em; because
    he's drunk and crazy and desperate, and nothing'll soothe him down
    but them cussed books." [I had not made any threats, and was not in
    the condition ascribed to me by the porter.]

    "Well, go on; but I will be around when he goes to rairing and
    charging, and the first rair he makes I'll make him rair out of the
    window." And then the old gentleman went off, growling as before.

    The genius of that porter was something wonderful. He put an armful
    of books on the bed and said "Good night" as confidently as if he
    knew perfectly well that those books were exactly my style of
    reading matter. And well he might. His selection covered the whole
    range of legitimate literature. It comprised "The Great
    Consummation," by Rev. Dr. Cummings--theology; "Revised Statutes of
    the State of Missouri"--law; "The Complete Horse-Doctor"--medicine;
    "The Toilers of the Sea," by Victor Hugo--romance; "The works of
    William Shakspeare"--poetry. I shall never cease to admire the tact
    and the intelligence of that gifted porter.

    But all the donkeys in Christendom, and most of the Egyptian boys, I
    think, are at the door, and there is some noise going on, not to put it
    in stronger language.--We are about starting to the illustrious Pyramids
    of Egypt, and the donkeys for the voyage are under inspection. I will go
    and select one before the choice animals are all taken.
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