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Girls offering Water at a Railway Station. 







* They shall come, which were ready to perish In the land of Assyria, 
and the outcasts in the land of Egypt.*'— Isaiah, xxTii 13. 



like ^ht qf TramlaiuM U nwrtei^ 














































.* 129 
























Much interest is felt in the present day in the 
condition of the poorer classes in our own country, 
and some go so far as to maintain that we should 
feel no interest and take no pains for any others. 
Undoubtedly our country people have the first 
claim on our attention and on our Christian and 
benevolent efforts; but a more extended interest 
does no harm to the home-field of labour, and those 
who work most for the one are generally the most 
active for the other also, as opportunity and cir- 
cumstances enable them. Almost all who are 
deeply engaged in the cause of suffering humanity, 
in finding out the evil and bringing in the remedy, 
are also ready to feel more or less for strangers, 



whether foreigners who have found their way 
across the water^ or inhabitants of distant lands^ to 
which healthy or business^ or pleasure may have 
taken them. 

But it is difficult to feel keenly, or take a living, 
active interest in any set of people we have not seen, 
or have only slightly glanced at, and of whose ways 
and habits we know little or nothing : it is only of 
late years that the condition of our own poor has 
been carefully observed and brought to light, and 
the more we know, the more we see the need of 
every effort that has been made, and of many more 
still, to advance the cause of Christianity, and 
ameliorate as far as possible the evils of poverty. 

It is the hearing about these matters that has 
interested so many in the good cause, and brought 
so many more workers into the home mission-field ; 
and if this is the case with our own people, it must 
be even more so with those at a distance : they do 
not live as we do in any respect, and it is hard for 
us to sympathise with them, yet we know that a 
soul is equally precious in God's sight, whether it 
be that of an Englishman, or an African, or an 
Asiatic; and the condition of immortal beings, 
wherever they are, must be interesting to all who 
seriously think on the subject 


Missionaries are constantly sending home ac- 
counts of the state of the heathen, and their appeals 
are not, thank God I disregarded; the way in which 
the sympathies of our own poor people, and the 
children of our Sunday and Ragged schools, are 
called out in their behalf, is often delightful to see, 
and must tell advantageously for both parties. 

But something seems wanting occasionally be- 
tween the general reports of missionaries in regular 
stations, and the vague and hasty sketches of rapid 
travellers, who can only see the surface as they 
hurry along through various countries, especially 
if ignorant of the language. We seem to want 
particulars concerning the lower classes, who 
usually constitute the majority of every society, 
so as to be able to bring them in some degree 
before our minds : such a class come before passing 
travellers most frequently in a disagreeable manner, 
either as beggars, or, at all events, as so dirty and 
ragged as to be quickly dismissed from his thoughts, 
or at best only put on paper in his sketch-book as 
a "picturesque creature, though dreadfully dirty. ** 
Nor is it possible, with the most benevolent inten- 
tions, for a passing traveller, or one who only so- 
journs a few weeks in a country, to see much of 
the uneducated classes, unless quite familiar with 


their language : while^ on the other hand^ if such 
an interest do not exists he may reside for years 
among them in vain^ just as is too often the case at 

Though a residence of less than a year is quite 
insufficient^ I am aware^ to enable any one to give a 
minute and full account of the state of the lower 
classes in Cairo^ yet^ as it was a second visits I had 
some superficial acquaintance with the habits of 
Eastern life, on arriving there, and also some 
Arabic words and phrases to begin with. Living 
in a native house, and in a quarter where all the 
poorer residents were Moslims, I had opportu- 
nities of observing a good deal of the ways and 
customs, the joys and sorrows, of the lower class of 
people, and the more so, as the climate enables 
them to live chiefly out of doors, and carry on 
all domestic occupations on their housetops, or in 
the street 

When the projected ragged-school for little 
girls was opened, there were, of course, still more 
frequent means of observation, though these were 
in a great degree confined to the female portion of 
the family, the men being generally absent at 
work during the day, as with us in England, A 
good many artizans, however, resided close to our 


house, and thus ** Mahmoud " the blacksmith, and 
^* Khaleel " of the fruitshop, and the old seed and 
fodder man who lived opposite the school-room 
windows, all became familiar faces, and their 
daily habits, and almost their daily pleasures and 
troubles, were well known to their Christian neigh- 
bours in the course of a few months. 

It was very interesting to trace the differences 
and resemblances between these poor city Egyptians 
and the corresponding class in our own great 
towns. I am inclined to think that those who have 
laboured among the ignorant and poor in various 
places, will agree that the differences appear most 
at jirsty and the resemblances increase as we look 
closer and see more of them, for " as in water, face 
answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." 
(Prov. xxvii. 19.) 

Such persons may be interested in these short 
sketches, which may be relied on for accuracy as 
far as they go, though exceedingly brief and im- 
perfect; nothiiig is introduced but what came 
under my own notice, no hearsay details given, 
as, however good the authority, they could not be 
personal observations, to which it seemed desirable, 
for many reasons, to confine myself. 



The first sight of Egypt — the first landing on an 
Eastern shore — can any one who has come straight 
from the cold North ever forget it? 

That warm transparentcolouring — thosefeathery 
palms and graceful minarets standing out against 
the clear blue sky, and relieving the monotony of 
the flat, sandy coast — that golden sunshine, making 
the shadows so deep by contrast with the intense 
light — and those moving crowds, so different from 
the figures with which our eyes h^-ve been familiar 
from childhood! One must pity the mind that 
cannot relish the novelty of such a scene; yet if 
witnessed a second time, after a long interval, the 
charm is almost greater, perhaps ; a pleasant mix- 
ture of novelty and familiarity seems to enhance 
the delight with which the eye wanders round 


the half- remembered pictures of Eastern life, and 
enables one to appreciate them even more fully 
than at first sight 

The tall Bedouins, in their white flowing drapery, 
stalking through the motley crowd — the troops of 
ragged, vociferating donkey-boys, with their white 
teeth displayed in perpetual grins — the women, in 
their scanty robes of blue cotton and black face- 
veils tied under their eyes, and little brown babies, 
with tiny red caps or dirty kerchiefs on their heads, 
clinging to the shoulders of their mothers — Levan- 
tines, in half-European, half-Oriental costume, loi- 
tering about, cigar in mouth — ladies in black silken 
shroud-like dress, hurrying along to the bath — 
Negroes and Nubians in gay-coloured turbans, and 
scarfs of every rainbow hue ; Jews and Algerines, 
Greeks, and Turks, and Maltese, — these are some of . 
the figures that swarm in the streets of the only sea- 
port of Northern Egypt. It is true that Alexandria 
is, compared to the towns of the interior, only half- 
Eastern in its inhabitants, and even its buildings ; 
numbers of houses are built in European style, and 
fair-haired Franks are plentiful in its streets ; but 
still it is wonderfully different from any city which 
a native of our ** isles of the sea " has ever seen in 


his own land, or in the whole continent of the 
North. There passes the first string of camels he 
has ever gazed upon! Who that has studied 
Scripture does not feel a thrill of delight as he 
watches them walking past him, associated as are 
camels with so many precious narratives and allu- 
sions — with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ? Singular 
creatures they are — gaunt, and yet stately — awk- 
ward, yet graceful, contradictory as it seems — for 
they have a grace of their own: as each great spungy 
foot is lifted up, the animal sways his long neck and 
looks down with solemn cautiousness, as if he were 
going to tread on eggs, while his large, beautiful 
dark eye turns occasionally to one side or another 
with an expression of dignified contempt, which is 
almost human in its intelligence. The heavy skins of 
Nile water, slung with hair-ropes to his steep sides, 
make a squishing sound with the jolting motion, 
' which is quite refreshing on a hot dusty day, and 
the progress of the long file is marked by the drops 
which escape from the older and more leaky vessels. 
One man, and often one little boy, will guide a 
whole string of camels, and the docile creatures 
patiently follow a master who does not reach so 
high as their knees. 


Bewildered with sights and sounds so new and 
strange, the traveller at last is weary with gazing, 
and rests under his mosquito-curtains till next day 
dawns, and he begins the new life in those old 
regions where everything has stood still for so 
many ages ! The land of mummies and pyramids 
— the land of the Pharaohs and their treasure- 
cities; and, what is more interesting still to the 
mind of any one who labours in God's vineyard, 
the land where so many thousands of human beings 
live at this present day who know nothing of the 
^^ city of refuge," but wander in various paths, all 
leading them astray. 




Thebe is not much of Oriental life to be seen while 
residing in an hotel kept by a European, and 
where, except a few native servants, scarcely any- 
thing appears to mark that you are in Africa. 
Cheshire cheese and porter bottles figure on the 
table, the English tongue is heard on all sides, and 
English or French furniture is seen in every room; 
it is very comfortable, no doubt, but it is not Egypt 
Nor is a Nile boat, beautifully fitted up with every 
European luxury, and stocked with home provisions 
and home articles, from the last-invented portable 
easy chair to the latest new novel. The Nile 
traveller sees a panorama of the Nile and enjoys 
its climate, and feels the stings of its mosquitos 
and sand-flies, but, in general, he does not learn 
nearly as much of the ways of the people and the 


details of their daily life as is gained by a residence 
of even a few weeks in a native house and in a 
native quarter. For this last advantage^ however, 
one must pay pretty dear at first, by taking a great 
deal of trouble; for if house-hunting is a troublesome 
work everywhere, it is particularly so in Cairo, 
and the poor hunter is led occasionally to envy the 
wandering Bedouin, who has but to pitch his tent, 
instead of groping into dark passages and stumbling 
over heaps of rubbish in search of an abode. 

The old houses are apt to be very old indeed, 
very dirty, and the wood-work hopelessly full of 
vermin: the new, on the other hand, are not 
furnished, for it is usual in Egypt to leave a house 
uncompleted until the builder has secured a tenant, 
a plan very convenient to him, because he can 
thus leave many little details and ^^finishing touches" 
to be added at the expense of the said tenant, 
unless he is more than commonly sharp in making 
the bargain. Thus the house-hunter is between 
two sets of difficulties: the old houses, however, 
after visiting a few of them, we decided against 
entirely, and turned our thoughts to the new, as 
offering the least evil. 

Some of the streets to which we had been 
directed were so narrow that the projecting wooden 


lattices touched from opposite sides, and only a 
small strip of sky appeared at the top of the houses. 
As the inhabitants keep the ground perpetually 
sluiced with water, these very narrow streets are 
damp even in this dry climate, and, except on the 
roofs, no free air can be obtained in them. One house, 
however, though in the close Coptic quarter, where 
the streets are particularly damp and narrow for 
the most part, was well spoken of, as it stood at a 
corner, and was consequently not crowded on al^ 
sides by its neighbours. It was, moreover, quite 
new, so new, indeed, that the staircase was not 
half finished, and a series of feats of scrambling, 
worthy of goats upon a cliff, had to be performed 
before we could reach the top room, whence a 
very fine view was to be seen, and pure air to be 
breathed. But the walls were not even plastered, 
nor the windows glazed, nor the doors made, and^ 
to crown all, the workmen were lying upon the 
floor in one of the rooms fast asleep, among heaps 
of shavings, though it was only ten o'clock in the 
morning. It appeared that they had been locked 
into the house to prevent them from leaving their 
work, and thus a fine example was produced of 
the effects of forced labour, they could not get 
out, indeed, but they slept instead of working I The 


master promised to have it ready in fifteen days, 
but it must have been a very credulous rasheen^ 
the cant term among the natives for a new-comer, 
to believe him, with the sleeping labourers before 
his eyes. 

After many failures and much fatigue, a house 
was at last found, which possessed many advantages; 
it was in a healthy, airy quarter, and, though a 
Moslim quarter, many Syrian families resided in it: 
it was also very near the country, and yet quite in the 
town, which for a school-house is a very important 
combination. This house was, moreover, so nearly 
completed, that two days of active work would have 
sufficed to make it habitable, as no paint was used. 
The Copt to whom it belonged was a sly-looking 
fellow, but he promised *^ on his head " to have all 
done in seven days. His future tenants visited 
their intended abode nearly every day during this 
period, to urge the workmen to work. But when 
the eighth day came, and they presented themselves, 
humbly following on foot the ox-cart which con- 
veyed their effects, the landlord appeared a good 
deal disconcerted at being taken at his word. 

Yet it was the only chance for the tenants to 
get all things finished, to be actually on the spot, 
inhabiting such rooms as were fit for use, otherwise 


the house might have remained unfinished to this 
very day ! The outside was clean and white^ and 
looked pretty and inviting, but it certainly did 
require some courage to enter the scene of dirt, 
litter, and confusion that appeared within. We 
had to spring over pools of whitewash, and clamber 
over loose stones and bricks, in order to get to the 
stairs, where we were met by a troop of dirty, half- 
clad boys and girls, with hods of mortar on their 
shoulders and pails of water on their heads. Thread- 
ing our way with some trouble among this ragged 
regiment, we attained the first story, and there 
found at least doors and windows, though the 
former, having neither locks nor latches of any 
kind, obstinately refused to remain shut, unless by 
means of a yiolent slam ; and then we had no means 
of escape, and were prisoners till our servant came 
and forced the door open by the application of his 

In half an hour's time, however, a change took 
place; the sly Copt sat at the head of the stairs, 
watching the active proceedings of his new tenants 
with great surprise, for, instead of reclining on 
their carpets in a comer of the dirty apartments and 
smoking a pipe in peace and quiet, as he doubtless 
had expected them to do in such circumstances, 


they were assisting their servants in clearing away 
rubbish and arranging and nnpacking fdmiture. 
When he saw one lady handling a broom, while 
the other was helping the maid to uncord a box, 
and at the same time directing the Nubian servant 
who was arranging bedsteads, he could not repress 
a broad grin; but as to lending a hand, ihat 
never occurred to him. By sunset he took his 
welcome departure, and the workmen also cleared 
oflF. By this time the rooms, if bare and desolate, 
were at least clean and habitable ; the new cook, 
a respectable Syrian, was calmly boiling rice and 
milk for supper in the kitchen, which had only 
been finished an hour ago, and the tenants sitting 
down on the palm-wood frames, covered with mat- 
trasses, which were the chief part of their furniture 
as yet, could at least say they were monarchs of 
all they surveyed I The rooms were whitewashed 
exactly like the outside, and from the absence of 
paint on any of the wood -work, and a certain 
deficiency in straight lines and in general finish, 
which is to be observed in most Egyptian handy- 
works, the whole concern had a bare appearance; 
the only seats were the palm-wood frames, already 
mentioned, like the bedsteads, only smaller, and 
called kavasses; these are used for a hundred dif- 


ferent purposes in Cairo; but, bare as it looked, 
it was a homey and the little ^' plenishing " which 
persons of moderate tastes require in such a cli- 
mate could be added by degrees. 

It is, indeed, a work of time to get the simplest 
furniture, where everything has to be separately 
hunted for, and bargained for, and brought home 
by yourself; that is, by your servant, or a porter, or 
donkey-boy, for shopmen do not send articles home 
for you, as with us. For a mattrass it was needfal 
to go to the Cotton Bazaar, get the raw cotton 
weighed, bargain for it, with the help of a more 
experienced friend, then send for a man whose work 
it is to pluck it and stuff the mattrasses and 
cushions, and to watch him pretty closely lest he 
put it in half-plucked, to save trouble. Then for 
shelves, so necessary in houses without any closets, 
a carpenter is sent for; and when he comes he says, 
" I have no wood I " " Well, get some directly." 
^* I must go to Boulac for it," two miles off. With 
great persuasion he is induced to try if the city 
of Cairo cannot produce a little wood, and brings 
some, of a bad quality enough, certainly. Two 
hours before sunset he is requested to make another 
shelf, having actually finished three, and replies, 
** To-morrow I will make it" ** Why not now? V 


it still wants an hour and more to sunset." ** I am 
tired," holding his head on his hand, "I have 
worked all day/' which was not strictly true; 
^^ bukra, bukra," to-morrow, to-morrow.* 

It would be well for the poor Egyptians if we 
could teach them that to^ay is better than to- 
morrow ; but we must take them young for such 
lessons : our friend the carpenter was too old, I fear, 
ever to learn to do anything to-day which he can 
possibly put off till to-morrow. 

* LiteraUy, '' Early, early ; " bat this is the Egyptian idiom 
always used for to-morrow, or by-and-bye. 




Ant one who expects the Orientals to be always 
sitting quietly smoking, and languidly bargaining 
with a solitary individual^ as is so often represented 
in prints and paintings of bazaars^ would be amazed5 
as I was, at seeing the bustle, life, and activity 
which the most frequented ones present. There 
are quiet bazaars, indeed, which are still, and almost 
gloomy, covered overhead, and so narrow that only 
a slender streak of sunshine can penetrate their 
recesses on the brightest day; the icentriazaar is 
one of these, where grave old men sit crouched in 
their little dens, on each side of a pathway which 
barely admits two persons abreast, and dispense 
their delicious odours, and the curious pastes and 
essences^ "kohl for the eyes, and Jienna for the 
fingers^ from mysterious-looking boxes and bottles^ 

while bunches of gold paper, used in wedding 
festivities, dangle from the top, and make a strange 
rustling sound in the hreeze. These are queer, 
dark places, certainly, aud few persons at a time 
are usually seen in them. But the great bazaars, 
where the necessaries of life are sold, ai*e also 
thoroughfares, and in the middle of the day so 
noisy and crowded, that it requires much skill on 
the part of the boy who guides one's donkey, as 
well as considerable vigilance in oneself, to avoid 
being knocked down or squeezed to a munmiy* 
A sea of white and red turbans is in front, here 
and there interrupted by a huge camel, towering 
above everybody, and apparently going to •trample 
down some half dozen in his progress, or by a 
long line of donkeys laden with dripping skins of 
water, or great stones for building, loosely fastened 
with cord-netting, and threatening to fall on the 
feet of the passengers; though, indeed, from the 
density of the crowd, they do not seem to have any 
feet — only heads! 

To penetrate the mass is a puzzling affair, l»]t 
the young guide calls ovA, ^^ To the right I'' ^ To the 
left I" incessantly adding plenty of hints to indir 
TOluals,-^— ^* O boy I O man I O lady! O camel- 
driver I ** No one, in speaking Arabic, ever calls 


on another without the '^ya" or ^*oh!^ which ex- 
presses the vocative ; if wishing to be more parti- 
cular^ he alludes to the article the person is carry- 
ing, thus: "O chickens, O oranges, get out of 
the way I *' and so by degrees one gets along. 

It is in the " Goreeah" (or Gorieh?) and Ham- 
zaue that the most lively traffic is carried on, and 
also in the ^^Mosky,** where the Greek, Maltese, 
and Italian shops are chiefly situated. Here car- 
riages are constantly to be seen, as the space is 
wide enough to admit of driving, though not always 
with safety : the Arab drivers, however, are rash 
and headstrong, and dash furiously along, a ^^saysy^ 
or running footman, armed with a long wand, going 
before to clear the way. ^^And some shall run 
before his chariots," (1 Sam. viii. 11.) By night the 
carriages are lighted by torches, borne by the says^ 
which cast a beautiful red glare as they hurry past, 
and strongly bring to mind the passage of Scripture 
where it is said, "The chariots shall be with flaming 
torches .... the chariots shall rage in the streets, 
they shall justle one against another in the broad 
ways : they shall seem like torches, they shall run 
like the lightnings." (Nah. ii. 3, 4.) 

But it is in the daytime that the chief crowds 
are to be seen in the East; they do not, like Euro- 


peans^ turn night into day; and instead of requiring 
gas to light up their shops, when the sun has set, 
they shut them up and go home; in this respect, 
surely, civilisation would not improve them I 

Leaving the Mosky, we enter on a street oc- 
cupied chiefly by Syrians, whose gay silks hang in 
festoons, or are piled in tempting heaps in their 
Kttle shops. We used to call this quarter *^ Sham 
Sorayer,"* or Little Syria, and always were glad of 
an excuse for stopping to deal with the pleasant- 
looking and pleasant-mannered Syrians, to whom 
we sometimes brought Arabic tracts, which were 
always well received, and occasionally even asked 

From the Syrian region we proceed to the 
Goreeah, where native trinkets, Manchester cottons, 
and Syrian crapes are found piled with quantities 
of other articles all along the bazaar, till the eyes 
are dazzled with the variety of colours, and the 
glittering of the gold and brass in the sunshine. 
Many of the English goods are manufactured ex- 
pressly for Negro taste, and are of hues and patterns 
never met with at home ; they are sent out for the 

* We use the r with a mark over it to express an Arabic 
gatturaly not easily caught by Europeans, and which none of our 
letters meet exactly. 


use of the glayes in bafeems^ or for die Negress 
beauties of Darfoor and Soudan. 

Women carrying bread, fftdt, or vegetables 06 
their beads add in no small degree to the noise as 
well as to the crowd in the bazaars, tkei# shrill 
cries sounding above every other din. They are 
sot, apparent^, tbougbt worthy of keeping sbc^, 
bnt whatever can be bomef on the head they may 
sell; and it makes a greater difference than one who 
hsts not seen il woulld fancy, to see all bnrdens on 
the head instead of on tbe arm or in the hand. 
At home, a tro^ of market-women have both hands 
fall, and are nsnally ben^ to one side with t^ 
weight of a basket on the arm; here, they are always 
erecty and seem incessantly gestictilating with their 
gracefnlly^rotrnde^ btown armi^,- I speak of thos^ 
wbo are not arrrived at age aind decrepitdd€^, and 
^klifi^ their silver 1)ra!eetets^ whik bage trays 
&t heavy water-pkchers are skiifitHy poised on 
their heads* The greater number have^ thefr fsfces 
hidden all but the eyes, still a good many of tbe 
lowest class are unveiled, or at most iave only A 
eomer 6f their head- veil drawn ajcross the mouth, 
and held in their teeth while passing along a public 

Sometimes, in the midst of all ther bnstle,^ 6 

Wedding-traihi passesf, Mosinift wedding* leing cele- 
brated in the daytime ; atfid a Chrktiat^ must take 
care not to get entangled in tbe train, as this wotiM 
give offeree. The poor little bride^ smothered m 
Siearlet shawk strung witbjevrelsy till she looks more) 
like an idol than a h^man beings staggers alon^ 
under si silken canopy, while her black-robed 
female relatives support her on each side, and a 
large company of both sexes follow with a band of 
native music. 

The variety of races and complexion among 
the crowds here is at first quite bewildering, but 
in time the eye learns^ to distinguish each of th« 
principal ones^ at leasts These are the Caireen, or 
Moslim-Egyptian, tke C©pt.> the Nubian, the Arab, 
the Turit, the Negro, the Abyssinian, and the 
Jew. As to the milted multitude of Oreefei!^ 
Italians, Maltese^ and others, they go under the 
general denomination of Franks, and are, unhappily, 
too often designated by the natives as the people 
who drink> and who eat pork. If » fraeas takes 
place, or a drunken man is seen, or a pickpocket 
apprehended, it is sure to be one of these miscalled 

The most picturesque and renmrkaWe of all th^ 
moting figures of the Eastern crowd is, undoubt- 


edly, the Bedouin Arab. Strong, but wiry and 
slender in frame^ graceful in his movements, as he 
follows his stately camels, or stops to purchase 
cotton or provisions in the bazaars, his striped 
abba, or white burnouse, hangs easily in heavy folds 
over his shoulder, and his dark skin, and prominent 
features, and keen black eye, all mark the un- 
changed son of the desert, who belongs not to the 
city, but passes through it, indifferent to its con- 
veniences and luxuries, and despising its customs 
like his ancestors. 

The Moslim-Egyptians are believed to be de- 
scended from the old inhabitants of the land, mixed 
with their Saracen invaders, and the Copts to be the 
unmixed remnant of the ancient race. The differ- 
ence is not now very striking, the language, dress, 
and manners being so much alike, for the black 
turbans formerly imposed on the Copts are not 
now obligatory, so that many of them have adopted 
red or white ones. Still, there is a difference, the 
sharper and more prominent features of the Asiatic 
showing its traces in the Moslim, while the Copt 
has usually thicker lips and a heavier cast of 
countenance. The Nubians and Abyssinians, for 
the most part, are slaves or servants in wealthy 
families, or boatmen from the Nile, as are some of 


the Negroes; but the Pasha has whole regiments of 
black soldiers, who are to be seen in the streets in 
numbers, their ugly features and awkward limbs 
forming a great contrast with the remarkable grace 
of the native Egyptians. 

Leaving the busy Goreeah, we turn into the 
Turkish bazaar, or ^^ Khan Khaleel ; " nothing but 
wealth and splendour there, few poor people, and 
more foreigners than natives among the scarlet and 
gold horse-trappings and amber pipe-heads, and 
stores of trinkets from Stamboul. Then we dive 
into a dark little street, and are in the midst of red 
and yellow shoes : it is the shoe-bazaar, or rather 
one of them, for there are several; more lively 
certainly, than shoemakers^ shops at home; and 
though these gay shoes do not fit as accurately as 
ours, they are better suited than our shoes for 
wearing on the stone floors of native houses, from 
the thickness of their soles. 

A little circuit brings us home by the quarter 
called by the ominous name of " Bab-el-Sharir," or 
**Gate of Evil;" gate is constantly applied to a 
whole quarter. No grandeur is here, but plenty 
of business; sieve-makers, and comb-makers, and 
Aro/oM-makers, all sitting at their doors working, 
and selling as opportunity offers, while numbers of 


little^ mean^looking shops sell native articles of diet, 
lentils and beans, masses of squeezed dates (always 
beset with swarms of flies, of course), pickled roots> 
and queer compounds in small brown dishes, name 
and nature unknown, and which it would probably 
require a native palate to relish. From the ** Bab- 
el-Sbarir ^ we soon arrive at our own quarter, the 
'' Bab-el-Bahar,'' or " Gate of the River," the river, 
or rather the canal, touching the extreme end of 
the region, though far enough from our street 




Ih tire winter-weather of Egypt, which is for tii6 
iiiost patrl deKgbtfulfy teftiperate, the housetop h 
a t€ry pleatsarrt petch, from whence^ & view of great 
^tent may be enjoyedy as we!l as mxrch '* native life" 
gleeii, which coirld hardly be gained from any other 
place so well. Our roof became almost a parlour 
during the c6ol weather, and afforded the best 
tebstitute for a garden that circumstances allowed. 
SHanding at a corner, and therefore oiily joined 
behind «nd an ofte side to other hcmses, and being 
much higher than those nearest it, our dwelling 
commanded a clear view of the city and of the 
toxtntty for miles round ; oft one side the graceful 
dpires of the citadel showed against the pure blue 
iky, and the Mokattam cbSs changing, according 
to the atmo^here cfr time of day, from purple td 


pink, and from pink to gold. In the opposite di- 
rection we looked upon the gardens which surround 
the city like a dark green mass, varied by the tall 
palms shooting up their feathery branches amid 
the orange and acacia trees, and by the white villas 
and palaces of rich pashas or Franks, A streak of 
pale yellow or pink in the far distance, just on the 
horizon, marked the desert beyond the narrow 
limit of fertility. All around us were the crowded, 
flat-roofed dwellings of the city, of every variety 
of height and shape, with hundreds of beautiful 
minareh towers and domed mosques, some dating 
back to the times of Saracen magnificence, others 
more modem and less exquisitely finished. No 
one who has not been on a housetop a little before 
sunset knows what Cairo is, or how well it merits 
the title of ^* Grand," when seen under these 
advantageous circumstances, when the blue haze 
of evening throws a charitable veil over dust and 
rubbish, and the setting sun makes the citadel look, 
like some fairy palace, rather than a creation of 
stone and mortar. 

From our sky-terrace, indeed, we could see both 
bad and good, and all was welcome ; if the near 
view be less attractive, it was yet more interesting ; 
for what can be so interesting as human beings. 

A Sugar-cane Seller. 

P. 29 


their life, with all its difficulties and toils, its plea- 
sures and its cares ? 

Down in the street below us, we looked on 
the humble sellers of onions, bread, or sugar-canes, 
who, seated all day upon their mats, soon became 
familiar both by face and voice ; the sugar-cane- 
seller especially, who lived at the comer opposite 
my window, furnishing many an animated group 
for the sketch-book in the crowds of boys and 
girls who came to buy her very popular articles. 
Her existence was less monotonous than might 
appear, for she talked incessantly to any one who 
came within ear-shot, whether customer or not. 

Late in the day, when sellers were making up 
their accounts, and a few sharp bargainers trying 
to get oranges, beans, &c., at a lower rate than 
before, the clatter of tongues was quite astonishing ; 
the ringing sound of slaps upon some one's shoulders 
was added to the cries of " You dog I " " You 
buffalo!" "You ass!" "You JewV the last being 
considered the worst insult. They are a merry as 
well as a quarrelsome set, however, and at least as 
much laughter as scolding went on : nor are the 
men graver or more silent on their side. I wonder 
who invented the fable of Oriental gravity, or 
whether some Eastern race really exists which 


is habitually grave, silent, and sol^nn? The 
Egyptians remind one constantly of the Irish in 
their love for conversation, mirthfulness, and pro- 
pensity to dispute, and general excitability of char 
racter. A southern ch'mate will give a certain 
degree of languor and idleness, but their tongues 
are not idle, as any one who lived in our street 
could well testify. 

Some of the houses in Bab*el-6ahar were, like 
our own, tall, and white, and respectable-looking. 
One of these was exactly opposite; its *^rez de 
chauss6e" was inhabited by an old seedsman, or 
seller of beans, com, and fodder, but the upper 
part was occupied by a wealthy Christian Syrian 
family. It seemed to have been an old one, partly 
remodelled, as the upper windows were furnished 
with the picturesque ^^ meshrabeers," or Arab lattices, 
projecting from the walls, and made of beautiful and 
elaborate carved wood-work, while the lower ones 
had the Turkish lattices, which are exceedingly 
inferior in a,ppearance. From these windows we 
often saw one of the three ladies of the house, who 
were all pretty, their kmg jAaits of hair hanging 
over an embrcwiderei jneket, and a handkerchief 
called a memled^^s^Wf^ round the head. Sometiines 
they wer« at wox^ko^ som^ gannent made of beautl* 


ful striped Damascene silk^ sometimes busy making 
the beds of the children, or dusting furniture with 
a palm-branch; for Syrian ladies are very domestic, 
and not above homely duties, though they were 
aided by two sturdy Negresses, one of whom was 
fonder of the window than her mistresses, and 
spent many a half hour in leaning out, and in 
grinning at her opposite neighbours from time to 
time. The master of the house, a handsome, dark 
Syrian from Damascus, was husband to one of the 
ladies, and brother to the two others ; he was in 
bad health when we first settled, and used to recline 
on a divan at the window, playing with a quill a 
rather monotonous tune on a curious old guitar ; 
and the native doctor's ass was frequently seen at 
the door ; but after a time he was seen going off 
to his business in the city, richly dr^sed and 
flourishing. He was scribe or writer to the Pasha, 
we were told, and therefore eminently respectable 
in position, and apparently quite the Oriental 

Bat we had plenty of ndghbours of a lower 
class, and it is upon the housetops of the inferior 
.dwellings that native life is most displayed. They 
were Vmilt of mud bHcfk^s, md stood so muob 
lower thaa wot hcmse, that even from tb^ wii>dow« 


we could plainly see the goat sauntering on the 
roof of one of them, and the turkeys pecking among 
the rubbish, or the matron, in her trailing garments 
of dark blue cotton, spreading fuel, called geeleh, 
to dry in the sun, picking douray or maize, from 
the husk, sifting wheat, winding thread on reels, or 
squatted before a small extempore fire, cooking some 
of the queer native messes that suit Egyptian 
palates. On another, perhaps, lies an idle boy, fast 
asleep in the bright sunshine, while his little 
brothers are playing with the kids, and his elder 
sister busy with the " wash " of family clothes, or 
hanging pink trousers and blue shirts to dry. She 
seems to get up and down by a sort of rude^mud 
steps, through a hole in the roof which gives light 
and air to the dens below. This description applies 
to the houses in the lane; many, a little better than 
this, and having windows, or at any rate lattices, 
though not often glazed windows, are yet built 
of mud brick, and curiously irregular, some parts 
being higher than the rest, with no apparent object, 
and the whole looking as if it were dropping into 

The roofs are usually in a great state of litter, 
and were it not that Hasna, the seller of geeleh, 
gets a palm-branch and makes a clearance once in 


a while, her roof would assuredly give way under 
the accumulation of rubbish. One thing never 
seemed cleared away, however, and that was the heap 
of old broken pitchers, sherds, and pots, that in these 
and similar houses are piled up in some corner; and 
there is a curious. observation to be made in con- 
nexion with this. A little before sunset, numbers 
o{ pigeons suddenly emerge from behind the pitchers 
and other rubbish, where they had been sleeping 
in the heat of the day, or pecking about to find 
food. They dart upwards and career through the 
air in large circles, their outspread wings catching 
the bright glow of the sun's slanting rays, so that 
they really resemble shining " yellow gold ; " then, 
as they wheel round, and are seen against the light, 
they appear as if turned into molten silver, most 
of them being pure whit€, or else very light coloured. 
This may seem fanciful, but the effect of light in 
these regions is difficult to describe to those who 
have not seen it, and evening after evening we 
watched the circling flight of the doves, and always 
observed the same appearance. " Though ye have 
lien among Hie pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of 
a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with 
yellow gold." (Ps. Ixviii.) 

It was beautiful to see these birds rising clean 


and unsoiled; as doves always do^ firom the dust and 
dirt in which they had been hidden, and soaring aloft 
in the sky till nearly out of sight among the bright 
sunset clouds. Thus a believer who leaves behind 
him the corruptions of the world, and is rendered 
bright by the Sun of Righteousness shining upon 
his soul, rises higher and higher, and nearer and 
nearer, to the light, till, lost to the \'iew of those 
who stay behind, he has passed into the unknown 
brightness above I 

It is from the housetops that the street*criers, 
so characteristic of every nation, as showing the 
wants and tastes of the masses, are best seen and 
heard. Many of these vary with the season, as 
with us, but the one that begins the day never 
changes ; and though so much that is painful to a 
Christian is mixed up in it, still the early call to 
prayer must always strike one as a most suitable 
commencement for the work of every day. Just a9 
the first ray of sunshine breaks forth, the muezzin's 
cry is heard, " To prayer, to prayer, O ye be- 
lievers I" It is but a form, alas I with most of the 
hearers, yet the very form reminds a servant of 
God of the privilege and duty of beginning each 
day with prayer. Then, when the echoing voices 
from mmaret to minaret have died away, the 


'^ working day " begins^ and the wants and pleasures 
of man make themselves known one after another. 

First is heard the milk -woman's call, answering 
to "Milk below 1" "Haleeb wa labanl" that is, 
new milk, and that which has been purposely 
turned slightly sour and thick, and is a favourite 
article for breakfast, and also used in cookery all 
over the East 

Sometimes a woman passes bearing a tray on 
her head, with small earthenware bowls filled with 
the cream of buffalo's milk scalded, and somewhat 
resembling Devonshire clotted cream; this dainty 
is called kishtar, and is much liked by Europeans 
as well as natives. 

In the autumn, as soon as the harvest of maize 
is commenced, the seller of parched com is heard 
at intervals all day. "Mashallah ya Doural" she 
exclaims, in a prolonged, chanting cry, and her 
store of young ears of com roasted in their own 
husks is much in request. The sweetmeat-seller 
is usually a man, who goes calling out in the name 
of the Prophet — comfits ! I never recollect seeing a 
woman selling sweetmeats; probably it was con- 
sidered a dignified business, as consisting of manu- 
factured articles. 

The most musical, perhaps, of all our street-cries 


was that of the seller of parched peas^ and a certain 
little nut or seed which is much eaten by children, 
and I suspect by grown people also : " Ya humoos — 
ya habil aziz — ya humoos!" O parched peasl O 
nuts of love I &c., was given in a really pretty, 
chant-like manner, and with a good voice : whether 
the tune belonged to the individual or the profession 
I do not, of course, profess to know. 

The orange-crier was generally a woman; so 
was the seller of radishes, who in a dismal minor 
key used to groan out her ** Figlee lubiat !" as if it 
were a last eflFort of a despairing wretch ; but very 
likely she was as cheerful as her neighbours,- and 
only cried in this style because it was customary. 
A little later in the day the sherbet-crier was 
heard; he had more custom in summer than winter, 
and on days when the Khamseen wind was blow- 
ing, the tinkle of his brass cups was sometimes 
the only sound in the hot and dusty street, during 
the sultry afternoon hours. The sherbet most 
commonly sold among the poor is merely raisins 
boiled in water which is cooled, or else treacle and 
water, or some such cheap preparation, all harmless 
enough. The itinerant seller of cotton handker- 
chiefs and muslin for the ladies passes oftenest in 
the afternoons, crying his English cotton and Indian 


iuuslins^ ** Shash Hindee 1 " with long phrases puffing 
his goods^ just as itinerant vendors do with us. 

When the seasons arrive, the various ifruits and 
vegetables have each their crier. **Eat Nabbeel'* 
says the woman selling the small fruit of a kind of 
jujube-tree commonly called Nabbee, and very little 
worth eating, to my taste. ** Sugar-canes ! white 
sugar-canes! in. the name of the Prophet 1" shouts 
a fellah, or peasant, fresh from the country, and 
bearing a load of thick, pale green canes on his 
shoulder. The purple canes are prettier, but I 
oftener heard the others cried, so I supposed they 
were considered sweeter. Then, when the real hot 
weather set in, about the middle of April, the 
cucumbers were in abundance, and eagerly devoured 
by all classes; and the cucumber-seller had a very 
musical and lively cry, of which it was not possible 
to catch all the words ; but tall or long cucumbers, 
compared to Bedouin, or else, more likely, offered 
to Bedouin, as supposed to be specially acceptable 
to men of the desert, seemed to be the gist of the 
song, as far as one could tell. 

Perhaps no cry is more striking, after all, than 
the short and simple cry of the water-carrier. ** The 
gift of Godl" he says, as he goes along with his 
water-skin on his shoulder. It is impossible to 


hear this cry without thinking of the Lord's words 
to the woman of Samaria : '^ If thou knowest the 
gift of Gody and who it is that saith unto thee^ Give 
me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of Him, and 
He would have given thee living water." It is very 
likely that water, so invaluable, and so often scarce 
in hot countries, was in those days spoken of, as 
now, as the " gift of God," to denote its precious- 
ness : if so, the expression would be exceedingly 
forcible to the woman, and full of meaning. 

The water-carrier's cry in Egypt must always 
rouse a thoughtful mind to a recollection of the 
deep necessities of the people, of the thirst which 
they as yet know not of, and of the living water 
which few if any have yet oflFered to the poor Moslims 
in that great city, and makes him wish and pray 
for the time when the sonorous cry of ** Ya aatee 
Allah 1" shall be a type of the cry of one bringing 
the living water of the Gospel, and saying, " Behold 
the gift of God I" 




Ancient ruins gilded by gorgeous sunsets^ and 
groves of palms fringing the river-side — all these, 
and many similar beauties, have been described 
over and over again, but the evening in question 
was very diflFerent in many ways. In the first 
place, it was not spent amid splendid monuments of 
the past, for we were only anchored on the coast, 
just opposite to Boulac, waiting for a change of 
wind to take us as far as Sacchara, for a few days' 
holiday about Christmas with two friends, and their 
children and nurses. 

Though not cold, in the way that it Is cold at 
Christmas at home, it was very decidedly cold for 
Egypt; and as we sat on deck waiting for the 
return of our friend's husbands who was detained 
in the city, we were glad to wrap ourselves in all 
the cloaks and shawls we had brought with us. 


Though a fine night, there was no particular beauty 
in the sunset, and the monotonous coast did not 
offer anything to tempt a sketch. Our interest had 
to be sought on board, and for some time we were 
amused by watching the boatmen, who beguiled 
the idle hours with music and dancing. One 
played the darahoukay or native drum, while another 
sang a plaintive ballad, which commenced by de- 
claring, "1 have received a wound in my heart 
which is incurable." The others then took up the 
chorus, " Oh, my night, my night 1" Then a more 
lively one struck up, in which the chief performer 
danced and acted a sort of rude pantomime, sing- 
ing, ** Shalak, shalak, ahmar !" Thy shawl, thy red 
shawl ! and describes the loss of a shawl, and the 
efforts to find it, and then to buy a new one, &c., 
gesticulating as, with a variety of comical move- 
ments, he goes all round the circle. 

At last, after several songs and dances, the whole 
party became tired, and began to light their pipes, 
and the darahouka was laid aside. It seemed a sad 
thing that these poor fellows should have nothing 
better than such childish diversion ere they went to 
rest. After a little consultation, it was agreed to 
desire our Moslim servant to ask if they would 
like the lady to read them a story. 


"What, in Arabic? Could the Sitt {lady) read 
Arabic?" they asked, incredulously, not knowing 
that the lady in question was from the lovely land 
of Syria, and the Arabic her native tongue. They 
all said it was good^ and they would like to listen. 

So the Arabic Bible was brought out, and, 
muffled in our cloaks, we sat on the deck' beside 
our friend, who was seated on a box; one of us 
held a fanousy or native lamp, which threw its 
bright light on the sacred page, while all around 
was darkness, except where the moon here and 
there shone on the swarthy faces of the Nubian 
boatmen, who formed a circle about us, crouching 
in various postures, and wrapped in their striped 
blue and crimson mantles. The servants stood 
leaning against the masts, listening with deep atten- 
tion; not a sound interrupted the reader's voice 
but the low ripple of the current, as the water 
plashed against the sides of the boat. It was a scene 
one would never forget, that first opening of God's 
book in the presence of these ignorant, benighted 
followers of the false Prophet Our friend read of 
the sheep lost in the wilderness, and the piece of 
silver lost in the house, those simple illustrations 
of God's wondrous dealings with man, which are 
understood and felt in every age and every land. 


Then she read the history of the prodigal son^ 
and the interest of the hearers increased, and was 
shown by their frequent exclamations of " Good!" 
« Praise God 1" '' That is wonderful 1" " Ha 1" with 
an expressive tone impossible to write, though easy 
to conceive. The look of intelligence which the 
silvery rays of the moon revealed on more than 
one dark, upturned face, and bright, black eye, 
spoke no less plainly. 

As she went on, pausing occasionally to explain 
a word or show the application, it was deeply 
interesting to watch the effect on her listeners ; and 
when she closed the book, fearing to tire them, 
there was a universal cry of " Lissa! lissal" " Not 
yetl not yetl" She read then the Ten Com- 
mandments, pointing out the necessity for atone- 
ment, as shown by man's frequent breaking of 
God^s laws. 

One of the men made a remark relative to 
the inferiority of women, whom he affirmed, ac- 
cording to Moslim doctrine, to be not only weaker, 
but more sinful creatures, than men. He did not 
intend anything personal by this, for the '* Sitt " 
was evidently looked on as one quite beyond the 
common race of women; and we heard them obr 
serve to each other, with most emphatic gestures^. 


that she was ''very good!" and ''knew every- 
thing 1'*^ Without manifesting surprise or annoy- 
ance, she explained to him the love of God for all 
His creatures^ and the equal necessity for His 
pardon for all. 

**If the water in a vessel is pure," she said, 
'' it signifies but little what the vessel is in itself, 
whether of clay or of silver; and the Spirit of 
God, dwelling in our hearts, can alone make us 
vessels fit for the Master's use ; whatever we are 
by nature. He will give us His Holy Spirit, and 
change our sinful hearts, if we ask as He has told us." 

These words, or some to that effect, as she 
afterwards told us, appeared to satisfy the objector, 
and were better than disputing his assertion. 

Our Syrian servant, an interested inquirer him- 
self, came forward with his little Gospel of St. John 
in his hand^ and begged the Sitt would read his 
favourite fourth chapter, which she did, and talked 
about it for some time with the hearers. One old 
man was more impressed than the others; and 
when the book was closed at length, and they had 
withdrawn to roll themselves up in comers to 
sleep, he remained sitting in his place^ and look- 
ing up with a touchingly wistful expression, said, 
*' What is a poor ignorant man like me to do ? 


What will be required of me? I cannot read, and 
you will soon go ; I hear no more of this; how am 
I to know what God would have me do ? ** 

**You must pray/' she replied, and earnestly 
exhorted him to ask daily for help and mercy in 
the name of Christ, in those simple words which, 
by her advice, we since have tried to teach to 
more than one poor Moslim whom chance threw 
in the way, " O God, lead me into the truth, and 
give me thy Holy Spirit, for the Messiah's sake." 

Poor old Mohammed I His white beard and 
weather-beaten, time-worn face showed that his 
days on earth were rapidly shortening in number; 
long he had lived and laboured in mental darkness, 
but he seemed to have the spirit of a little child, 
lowly, and ready to learn. May he not be received 
as a little child, and the single ray of light cast on 
his path be made sufficient to guide his docile 
heart to the feet of Him who has said He would 
save to the uttermost all that come to God by 

This evening's attempt was like a single grain 
thrown into the vast waters of the great Nile ; yet 
it was made in faith and with fervent prayer, and 
who can venture to say that it has failed, though 
its results may never be known on earth ? 


A violent wind was blowing on the following 
day, and it was impossible, when evening came, to 
resume the reading as we should have liked to 
do, for the boatmen were weary with contending 
against the hurricane ; every one's eyes were full 
of dust, and every one felt tired and stupid, and, 
crouching in comers, wrapped in their striped 
mantles, they all went to sleep at an early hour. 
We gpt as far as Gezeh next day, though chiefly 
by punting y weather being still unfavourable; 
however, we went on shore for a few hours, in 
spite of the wind, as it was less tedious than sitting 
on board, though the mud walls and tumble- 
down houses of Gezeh do not afford much novelty. 
The palm-groves which surround it make some 
variety, and picturesque groups are always to be 
seen keeping sheep, goats, or buffaloes, or carrjring 
water, or gossiping as they sit in the dusl, doing 
nothing. Troops of handsome, lively, dirty children 
crowded round us as we walked among the huts 
on the outskirts of the town, and among the palm- 
trees ; these children were browner and healthier- 
looking than those of Cairo, and the women also 
struck us as better-looking and more vigorous, pro- 
bably from leading a more healthful life, engaged 
in country occupations. 


Mrs. R stopped to speak to some of them^ 

and but for the wind, which made it impossible to 
sit down in any comfort, we might have had a troop 
of listeners very soon. They seemed both surprised 
and delighted to see a lady, apparently a Frank, 
from her dress, yet able to speak as fluently as 
themselves in their own language. One old woman, 
indeed, was not so friendly as the others, and said, 
very gruffly,- 

" Why did you come out on so cold a day ? 
Tou are not obliged to be out I" Then, answering 
her own question, she continued, **To be sure, 
when people had a donkey-load of clothes on them, 
they could not feel nor mind the windl" 

The others laughed at the old crone, and one 
or two of the younger ones, who had bright, plea- 
sant faces, would have been easily persuaded to 
stay, and talk, and listen, had not the wind been 
so strong ; but they were lightly clad, poor things 1 
and their blue rags seemed like mere cobwebs in 
the storm : the only wonder was they lingered 
round us so long. 

There would, in some respects, be less difficulty 
in making an impression on country women than 
on those in the cities, who are far lower in morals, 
as their very countenances would show; but, on 


the other hand, the city, as containing the greatest 
number, has always our first claim, and we have 
more reason to hope that education may spread 
from town to country, than from country to town. 
Still, when thrown by chance among some of these 
thickly-peopled villages, the sight of so many human 
beings, whose existence appears as aimless as that 
of their cattle, and who are debarred from any 
opportunity of learning something beyond their 
monotonous life, must fill one's mind with sorrow- 
ful thought. What a stagnant thing must be a 
life whose ideas are all circumscribed within the 
limits of a heap of mud walls, a palm-grove and a 
cornfield on one side, and the river on the other ; 
or rather, that small portion of the river in which 
the women wash their clothes and draw water, and 
to which the men lead their buffaloes and camels 
to drink I 

Perhaps there are villages at home not so very 
much higher, but then intellect and education are 
not so far off from them as from the dwellers on 
the banks of the Nile. 




"MosuM girls will not come to school; you are 
sure to fail.^^ Such was the dictum again and again 
repeated when the intended eflFort was spoken of. 
** Among Copts," it was said, ** some chance of good 
might possibly be expected ; but Mahommedan girlsy 
and of the lower class too, — it was certain to fail I " 
Even a native gentleman, educated in England^ 
echoed nearly the same thing that had been said 
both at home and here, by Europeans, though he 
cordially wished success to every project that had for 
its end the good of his country. *^ They do not wish 
for education in the lowest class," said he, *^ espe- 
cially for girls, who are, as you know, looked on 
as inferior beings altogether by Moslims. Besides, 
if you collected a few, who would come from curi- 
osity, some bigot would soon frighten away the 


children, and tell the parents you wanted to make 
Christians of them.'* 

** We shall tell them, then, that we cannot make 
Christians; no human being can. Jn Ireland the 
priests have cleared our schools again and again 
by threats and persecution, but the children soon 
return, and when they find it useless they give up 
the point. The word of God has a marvellous 
power in itself, and one point in our favour is, that 
the Moslim religion does not forbid the reading of 
our Scriptures." 

*^ True," he replied; ** they even speak of them 
with respect, though maintaining that Christians 
omit a part of the Gospel which alludes, as they 
pretend, to Mohammed. But as to a schooV^ — and 
here followed an enumeration of a whole host of 
difficulties and hindrances to such an undertaking. 
We could only reply, " Time will show." 

Perplexed, but not in despair, the little room 
was made ready in spite of all. The poor Syrian 
family who occupied the lower part of the house, 
and whose eldest girl, though but thirteen, was 
to be my sole teacher and assistant, took a 
lively interest in the affair, and their children 
helped to nail up a few prints, and texts in Arabic, 
the latter written out fair by the father for the 



purpose. A work-basket was stockekl^ and alpha-* 
bet-cards provided; nothing more was needed tp 
begin with^ benches and tables being unnecessary 
for an Egyptian school. All was ready except the 
pupils ; how to procure them was the problem. 

Our servant had been sent to ask some of his 
wife^s friends to send their daughters^ and though 
a devout Moslim^ he seemed to take an interest in 
the novel concern, and promised to spare no do- 
quence; that is to say, he told us he would talk 
"plenty." Meantime I, my little teacher, and 
her mother, looked as anxiously out at the windows 
as if listening for some one^s chariot-wheels. The 
good woman hailed the old seedsman opposite, who 
was just eating his breakfast with his three young 
daughters, and in most conciliatory tones asked him 
to send Cadiga and her sisters to learn to read 
and work. " But we are Moslims, and don't want 
to learn," was the reply, given in a most sullen 

It was necessary to go out into the highways 
and urge them to come in. The matron, therefore^ 
assumed her white veil, and we set out together, 
and went first into the street, and then into the 
lane, near the house where girls of all sizes appeared 
to be a very plentiful article. Every woman we 


met we stopped and accosted in a friendly way, 
and then began to speak of the intended school, and 
urged her to send her children. Some laughed and 
passed on, others said, " Very good," and at last we 
returned with the promise of several girls, feeling 
quite triumphant and thankful. 

As we re-entered the house a woman, wearing 
a quantity of coral and silver ornaments, though 
otherwise poorly dressed, came in with us; she waa 
accompanied by a nice-looking child, of nine or ten 
years old. She was invited in with the customary 
salutation, "Be welcome 1" and after throwing back 
her burko, or black crape face-veil, she began to 
pour forth a volley of words, of which all I could 
make out were, that her child was timid and afraid 
to stay, but she would send her to-morrow. Here 
was disappointment! The first fish seemed just 
hooked, and now it was escaping the fisher^s hands ! 
However, I reassured the chUd by caresses and 
kinds words, and they went away, promising again 
to return, which they did the next day; and I 
heard it reported afterwards that the woman had 
said, approvingly, " She kissed my child I " And 
she did send her next day, but at the time I 
could not be sure the promise would be kept 
Presently, however, two little girls, about eight 


years old, trotted in, followed by their respective 
mothers, and I think their grandmothers also^ 
for several women of different ages and degrees 
of rags came in, and there was a great deal of 
unveiling, and saluting, and chattering. At last 
the grown-up children departed, and the two little 
scholars, with the two Syrian children, sisters 
to the young teacher, were established on the 
mat, and were soon joined by several more, till at 
length, by about ten o'clock, we had nine pupils^ 
seated in a semi-circle, all Moslims! No recruiting 
sergeant was ever half so pleased with a handful 
of future soldiers, for it was beating up for recruits 
for the Lord I Each was now asked her name in 
turn, and then who had made her, to which the 
older ones replied, "Allah." Several little ones 
said, ** Mohammed." 

The first verse of the Bible, ^' In the beginning," 
&c., was then repeated to them, and they were 
taught to say it, first each one by herself, and then 
altogether. This was the beginning of instruction 
for them, poor children I The young teacher was 
too inexperienced to be able to explain it, so I did 
what I could in that way ; and then we both set to 
teaching the five first letters of their difficult alpha- 
bet, till they seemed to be getting tired ; they were 



then allowed a rest^ and afterwards a singing lesson 
was commenced. 

The neighbours might have supposed a set of 
cats to be the pupils, if they listened to the discor- 
dant sounds which the first attempt at a gamut 
produced; but, as the proverb says, "Children and 
fools should not see things half done." Three 
months later a stranger visiting the school was 
delighted at the sweet singing of the hymns ! The 
mewing and squeaking were nearly forgotten by 
that time. 

The children were delighted when the work-hour 
arrived, the real inducement to most of them and 
their mothers having been the needlework. Perhaps 
the teachers were not sorry when every little brown 
middle finger was supplied with a new thimble, and 
they could sit down for a few minutes. No one 
who has not tried it can conceive the difficulty of 
teaching those who have not only no loish to learn, 
but no idea of what learning isy or what possible 
good is to be gained by all this trouble : and, of 
course, the strain upon the mind is greatly increased 
when one^s knowledge of the language is very 
limited indeed. 

The children all took willingly to sewing; 
iiideed, they had many times in the course of the 


forenoon thrown down the cards, and cried out; 
"The work! give ns the work I'' The English 
needles and scissors gave much pleasure, and were 
eagerly examined by some mothers and elder sisters 
who paid visits to the school-room, in the course 
of the day, to see what the foreigner was doing 
with their little ones; for, if ignorant, they are 
usually very fond parents. Some brought bread, 
bunches of raw carrots,. or some such dainty, and, 
after giving it to the children, would squat down 
on the mat to watch the proceedings. Of course, 
it did rather interfere with business, but it will not 
do to strain a new rope too tight; and, besides. 
Eastern manners are unlike ours, and I thought it 
wisest never to meddle with them, unless some real 
evil was in question; 

Though ragged and dirty, the children had not 
in general the starved looks of too many scholars 
in our beloved country ; nor do ragged clothes and 
dirty faces imply such a degree of poverty as with 
us. In the higher classes, a child is often inten- 
tionally kept dirty to avoid the evil eye; and, 
perhaps, this feeling may have given the idea that 
ragged clothes were no disgrace. In the country 
villages, a blue cotton shirt is the unvarying costume 
of boys and girls^ the latter having the addition of 


a veil, the former of a cotton cap. But, in the city, 
dress is more varied, and most of the scholars wore 
coloured print trousers and little jackets, or some 
other article: they looked much as if the contents 
of an old clothesman's bag had been scattered over 
them at random, as there was not one of the nine 
in whole or well-fitting garments. Still, when, be- 
tween coaxing and a little manual aid, the young 
faces were all washed clean, they were not a bad- 
looking circle: several had very pretty features, 
the soft, black eye of Egypt has great beauty, and 
they all have white and even teeth. 

On the second day we had fourteen scholars. 
As they entered, each kicked off her slippers, if she 
possessed any, at the door, I think more than half 
had some kind of shoe, and then went up to kiss 
the hand of the superintendent, and lay it on her 
head; both which processes became pleasanter 
when cleanly habits had come a little into fashion I 
One little thing was led in by an elder sister, a 
fine, tall girl, about fourteen or fifteen, wearing the 
common blue cotton garment, with its limp drapery, 
and a pink net one within it, and what resembled 
some one's old table-cloth upon her head. This 
was Shoh! — a name almost impossible to render 
correctly by writing, except, perhaps, by a note of 


admiration^ to imply the sudden stop of the sound ; 
it signifies *^ Ardently loved P' 

We did not know at this time that Shoh was 
married, and only supposed she thought herself 
too old to come to school, though manifestly wish- 
ing to do so. She came in and out, listening and 
smiling, and at last, about noon-day, again returned, 
bringing an infant brother, in a very dirty condition, 
riding on her shoulder, and a quantity of oranges 
in the end of her veil. These last she poured into 
my lap, being a present to show her good-will, and 
at almost the same instant the baby was adroitly 
lowered from the shoulder and popped upon the 
floor, with a bit of sugar-cane stuffed into his little 
hand; while Shoh planted herself triumphantly 
on the mat at my feet, and, seizing an alphabet^ 
card, began repeating "Alef-beh" in an under- 

The love of learning, or curiosity to see and 
hear something new, had conquered matronly dig- 
nity, and from that time she paid frequent visits to 
the school. 



OuB Boab and his family may be taken, probably, 
as a fair specimen of " Ragged Life in Egypt," or, 
at least, in Cairo, for, as far as we could see, it 
appeared that most of the same grade lived nearly 
in the same way, except that such small habitations 
as the one they occupied were not common inside 
the city, though often seen in the suburbs and 
villages. We had opportunities of watching the 
life of these our nearest neighbours, which made 
us well acquainted with their habits : indeed it was 
impossible, unless we shut our eyes, to avoid ob- 
serving them, from the peculiar proximity of our 
respective dwellings. 

When we first arrived in Bab-el-Bahar, the half- 
finished lower room, or mandarahy as the Egyptians 
call it, was already occupied by the person alluded 
to, the Boab, i.e, the gatekeeper of the street^ or 


rather of the whole quarter. It seemed that he had 
intended quartering himself and his large family 
upon the new-comers, doubtless hoping that, as 
foreigners, they might be persuaded into thinking 
it a customary proceeding ; so we found them sleep- 
ing in our lower room, as aforesaid, by night, and 
hovering about the door all day. But, for various 
reasons, it would have been very unwise to submit 
to this, and after two or three " warnings to quit," 
the venerable guardian left the shelter of our roof, 
and about the same time the masons and their 
ragged assistants were got rid of, and quiet reigned 
in the new household. 

Our friend the Boab was not, however, going 
far off, as was soon evident from the operations set 
on foot immediately on his dismissal : in a few days' 
time a sort of Uan-tOy made of mud and plaster, and 
strongly resembling a pig-stye, arose just outside 
the future school-house, whose wall served as a 
back for it. Windows it had none, nor could the 
owners stand upright in it, but there was a door- 
way, which, if not quite regular in outlines, yet 
served for them to creep in and out ; and when the 
warm weather came, and the little den grew close, 
for the family was numerous, one or more could 
sleep on the roof, nestled down among the heaps 


The Boab and Ms Family. 

P. 59. 

THE boab's familt. 59 

of straw or other rubbish which generally lay 

In our country, such a ragged troop, in such 
close neighbourhood, would have been a great 
nuisance, but the evil was a good deal diminished 
in Egypt, because the climate allowed them to live 
all day out-of-doors ; nor, we must in justice add, 
did they incommode us by showing any desire to 
pry into our concerns, or meddle with any of our 
property; the children neither begged nor stole, 
nor, except sitting on the door-step, and keeping it 
littered with the stones and bits of crockery which 
served as toys, did they at all interfere with their 
neighbours' residence ; which was lucky, as, had 
they been ever so annoying, I do not know that 
we could have sent them away. 

The family were, I believe, more "respecta,ble'' 
than one might have imagined from their squalid 
exterior. Our sketch represents the father, as he 
often stood, leaning against his hovel, which was 
considerably lower than his head, enjoying his 
evening pipe; he was by far the most decent- 
looking of the party, having always a turban of 
comparative cleanliness, and a pair of red slippers. 
His wife, if not quarrelling with her neighbours in 
the lane, or hunting down her children, or fetching 


water from the river, which were the chief varieties 
of her life, might be seen indistinctly from the 
door, grovelling in the dark recesses of her little 
abode, wrapped in faded and dirty blue cotton gar- 
ments, which hang limp and ragged about her 
thin shoulders, vhile her brown and wrinkled 
throat was decorated by a row of silver coins 
dimmed by age and dust, three or four of which 
would have procured her new trousers and a clean 
veil. In the dust, just before our door, a little 
dusky creature, between one and two years old, is 
rolling about; that is the Boab's youngest hope, 
and one of the right kind, too, for it is a hoy I 
The family were considered unfortunate in having 
a much larger proportion of girls among their 
tribe of children; and though three of them, I 
think, had been disposed of in marriage, there still 
remained more girls than Mrs. Boab at all approved 
of One of these was particularly fond of sitting 
on the roof of the family stye, enjoying a piece of 
sugar-cane quite as much as her father did his 
pipe, or fighting for it with the neighbours' little 
boys who were playing in the rubbish with her. 
One little fellow, a neighbour's son, who had a 
solemn expression of countenance, which contrasted 
oddly with his ragged blue shirt and cotton cap. 

THE BOAB's family. ♦ 61 

rejoiced in the appellation of ** Abdul-Nebby," or 
the Servant of the Prophet ! 

He and a troop of such small fry were con- 
stantly rolling about with the Boab's children, and 
were objects of interest and concern which they 
little guessed, poor things! as they laughed and 
quarrelled over the dates given them from the 
window of the strangers. 

A little degree of influence began, after a time, 
to be gained; they would sometimes stop in a 
dispute at the voice of gentle expostulation, and 
a little girl would sometimes run for refuge under 
the wall, when tyrannised ovex by a boy, and call 
out for redress with upturned face and imploring 
eyes directed to the windows. 

In due time Salhahy the little maiden who sat 
on the roof, became a scholar, though never a very 
regular one, for she was idle and saucy, and some- 
times ran off to play with the boys again just as 
lessons were commenced. 

One day she took a "huff," as children say, 
and stopped from school for a week, because an- 
other girl had torn the arms off a doll which she 
had with some ingenuity manufactured out of a 
piece of rag ! Just after this we heard that Salhah 
was going to be married! It seemed a horrid 


mockery of the name of marriage^ when this little 
creature's utter childishness was so plainly shown 
by her conduct: she was eleven years old, but 
neither in looks nor manners was at all older than 
girls of that age among city children of the poor 
with us. It was found that the mother selfishly 
wished to get rid of the burden of her support, and 
that the mother of a lad about fifteen, who lived 
near, wished, with equal selfishness^ to get a drudge 
who should carry water, and perform menial oflSces 
for her household. Neither Salhah nor the boy 
were consulted, apparently, but the two mothers 
arranged everything, and made a feast to celebrate 
the betrothal. This was at the house of the bride- 
groom's family, the stye being certainly incapable of 
afibrding a guest-chamber even of the humblest 
description. The feast did not consist of a lamb 
roasted whole, or any such dainties, but ^^they 
cooked some meaty'* we were told, with an air that 
implied this was no ordinary treat. Some sweet- 
meats were given to the bride-elect, which were all 
the obtained of the banquet. However, her bride- 
groom made her a present, with which he had been 
provided for the occasion, as was customary. As 
they were poor, this only consisted of two piastres, 
about fourpence. ** What did Salhah buy with the 


money?'* I asked. " She bought more sweetmeats, 
and then her mother beat her when she found she 
had done so," was the reply. Poor child I how we 
longed, on hearing this fresh proof of her youthful- 
ness, to have her again at her alphabet and needle t 
Happily she did return to us very shortly, for the 
match was ultimately broken off by her own per- 
severance: she had more spirit than a Moslim girl 
often dares to show, and persisted in saying, ** Mush 
ouz," Not want, till the parents gave way, perhaps 
aided by the indifference of the boy-bridegroom, 
and the facility with which her place could be 
supplied, as little ragged girls were not scarce in 
that quarter. 

A younger sister of Salhah's, called Haanem, 
was a more pleasing object to look at, being a dear 
little thing of four years old, with a round, plump 
fiu^, and large, bright black eyes, and a sweet 
plaintive voice; she used to trot in among the 
earliest scholars, in her scanty blue cotton garment, 
I never saw her in the possession of a second, and 
an old faded kerchief tightly tied round her little 
head, with two ends hanging down behind. In 
spite of this unbecoming costume, Haanem was a 
pretty child, and graceftJ in her ways; it was 
amusing to see the earnest look with which she 


would bring her morsel of sewing to exhibit, and 
to hear her lisp out,**ShoofiS! dee quaiss?" — Look I 
is this nice ? 

A married daughter of the Boab came now and 
then to spend a few days with her parents, but 
where or how she was accommodated remained a 
mystery to the last; possibly some of the young 
folks ^'camped out*' to make room. 

To do her justice, the mother was ready to dis- 
pose of her children, as was seen in Salhah's case, 
but the expense and trouble of support was more of 
a burden than want of house-room to iJieir feelings. 
The Boab received four piastres a-month from us, 
and probably the same, or rather Uss^ from thirty 
or forty other houses, the very poor would pay 
nothing, of course; this would make a sufficient 
income to live decently in that climate, so that I 
conceive it was more ignorance than actual poverty 
that kept them in so low a condition. 

What the business of the Boab was, I njBver 
could clearly ascertain. He always seemed to be 
loitering about our door, solemnly smoking a long 
pipe, or doing nothing, by day, and at night dis- 
turbing our rest by calling out in a loud voice 
*^ Yadai 1 " at certain hours in the night We were 
informed, however, that he was guardian of the 


street, and perhaps some terrible evil might have 
occurred had he not been there. 

In Ramazan he shouted a sort of chant about 
midnight, which oughty I believe, to have been a 
great deal longer by rule, but he or the imams cut 
it short ; and every morning in this season he went 
round to all the true Moslims' doors, rousing the 
people and exhorting them to get up and go to 
prayers. These were all the offices which we could 
discover, and if they were all his business, he cer- 
tainly did not work very hard for his daily bread 
and onion ! 




Thouoh a matron, even of fifteen, could not be 
expected to be a regular attendant at school, my 
young friend Shoh did her best to come when she 
could. At first her husband beat her for coming ; 
but when he was in a better humour, or absent 
with his donkey, she would run across the lane 
and enter the school with a triumphant expression 
in her odd, bright face, and seat herself, with a 
card in her hand, upon the mat. But she was too 
full of questions to give steady attention to the 
alphabet, and, as there was little probability of her 
staying long enough to learn to read, I was glad to 
let her get what knowledge she could in her own 
way. After a time the husband gave her per- 
mission to come, when not engaged in household 
work; and often she would rush into school, her 


hands all white with flour from bread-makings or 
with a piece of needlework on her arm, for she 
could sew in the coarse style used by native women, 
and soon improved very much in this branch. 

The worthy Syrian matron, TJm TJsuf {i.e. 
Joseph's mother, as she was always called), had 
now taken charge of the school, as her daughter, 
Menni,was found too young to be my sole teacher; 
and this good woman, whom I had reason to 
believe a sincere Christian, took much pains to 
talk to Shoh ; and while the younger children were 
eating their bread at noon, I used to make Menni 
read aloud part of the Gospel, or of a simple 
Arabic tract, to Shoh, and some of the older 

The matron was fiilly imbued with the Gospel 
doctrines, and pretty well acquainted with Scrip- 
ture, at least with the New Testament, but was 
quite inexperienced in teaching. I often wished 
she could have had a little of the training af- 
forded by one of our Dublin or London ragged 
schools ; but, as it was, we rather resembled the 
men in " Sandford and Merton," one of whom 
was lame, but could see^ the other blind, but with 
good legs, who got along the road by assisting each 
other. So, with a superintendent deficient in 


language, and a teacher inexperienced in teaching, 
we were one blind, and the other lame. However, 
pains were not wanting, and made up for some 

One day I allowed Shoh to pay me a private 
visit, which she thought a great privilege. Robin- 
son Crusoe's man Friday could hardly have been 
more astonished and delighted at the very simple, 
and even scanty furniture of the apartment The 
curtains of white cotton, bound with red, seemed 
splendid in her eyes; the home-made pictures, 
fastened with pins to the whitewashed walls ; the 
toilet, formed of a kafass covered with chintz, 
and the general air of cleanliness and order, made 
it appear a luxurious room to poor Shoh, accus- 
tomed to a mud-walled and dirty abode in the 
neighbouring densely-peopled lane. A small work- 
box, with its contents, delighted her as much as 
if she had been a child of two years old; and 
when she drew from it a yard-measure made of a 
polished shell, and found out the mystery of pulling 
out and winding up the ribbon in it, her ecstasy 
knew no bounds, and she clapped herself violently 
on the chest, as if to knock the breath out of her 
body, rolling up her eyes, and exclaiming, *^ Won- 
derful 1 wonderful!" 


It was pleasant to see, with all her childishness, 
how new ideas gradually began to take root ; and 
though her versatility would often cause her to 
interrupt her teachers, jnst as her attention seemed 
fixed, by observing, '^ Let me try your ring on my 
finger, I want to see your thimble," &c., still 
she would return after a time to the subject, and 
she soon learned to associate the book of God with 
the school and with us : and it is surely something 
gained when the Bible is known as our flag and 
insignia, as it were, among an ignorant neighbour- 
hood such as this I On a subsequent visit, Shoh 
took up the English Bible which lay on the table 
and asked what it was ; and I took the opportunity 
to explain that, though in another language, it was 
the same as the book Um Usuf read to her in school, 
and tried to impress her with a sense of its value. 
She asked more questions than I was able to 
answer, and seemed interested and pleased by the 

It was very amusing to see the young matron's 
delight when, after an absence of several days, she 
obtained time or permission to make her appear- 
ance among us again. She bounced in with such 
a look of joyous triumph, seized my hand to kiss as 
usual, and then skipped round the room, nodding 


to the scholars^ till at length she flung herself down 
in a comer, pulled the yellow kerchief off her 
head, in order to show that her plaited locks were 
clean and neat, then sprang up again and ran to 
the window-seat, where soap and water stood, to 
wash her hands, holding them up significantly, as 
if to say, *^ I know you are fanciful about clean- 
liness," and finally snatched up a card from the 
shelf and commenced repeating her alphabet aloud. 
I made her a present of a small pair of scissors, 
having lately received a parcel of them from Eng- 
land ; and certainly, the superstition about edge- 
tools cutting love did not prove right in this case, 
for poor Shoh's regard had not diminished when 
1 parted from her, and her joy at the gift was 
unbounded. She held them aloft, gazing with 
comic admiration at their brightness, pressed them 
to her heart at the risk of wounding herself, and 
finally relieved her excited feelings by catching 
Menni round the neck, and half-suffocating her in 
a warm embrace while she repeated, " The scissors ! 
the scissors 1^' 

Poor Shoh was not fortimate in a mother, as I 
soon discovered. We were engaged in singing 
one day, the children beginning to get some notion 
of a tune, and Shoh's heavty, though somewhat unr 


musical^ voice joining us, when an ugly, blear- 
eyed, old woman walked in with an extremely 
dirty child, of two years old, on her shoulder. 
Having deposited him on the floor, she squatted 
down and began to make her observations. These 
visitors were Shoh's mother and her youngest 
brother, for they were a very numerous family. 
When we ceased singing the old woman began to 
talk, and I gathered from her voluble speech that 
more children would attend school if the mothers 
did not fear that we should carry them off to 

I exclaimed indignantly against the idea of 
being engaged in a kidnapping transaction, *^ Listen, 
O woman I We have girls plenty in our country, 
more girls than we want. Why should we take 

Shoh presently interposed, assuring her mother 
that she had seen pictures of the lady's own ^'bint 
ocht,'' or sister's daughters, so little, and pretty, 
and nicel ^^ She want yours^ indeed 1" pointing, 
rather scomfiilly, to her young countryfolk, who 
really, if clean and neatly clad, would have looked 
quite as well, in their way, as any set of English 
children, though we had no desire to carry them 
away I 


Urn TJsuf and I did our best to explain that we 
had, not only children, but schools in our land, and 
that our poor girls were taught to read and to know 
God in them. 

" Here your girls are not taught, so we have 
come to teach them." 

" Oh, there was a Frank school kept by French 
nuns," the old woman said, ^^ where several Copt 
girls went." 

"That is not like ours," I replied; "those 
ladies teach the children to bow before pictures 
and images; they are ^servants of idols T* the 
common Arab term for the Catholics, and God's 
book is not read in their schools. But here we 
have no images, and only pray to God." 

We endeavoured to show that it was not for 
our own benefit, but for the children's, that we 
acted ; but it is difficult to make people who are 
unaccustomed to receive any gratuitous benefit, 
beyond a mere trifling alms, understand such a 
course of action, and Shoh's mother looked as 
though she had both literally and figuratively 
grovelled in the dust too long to believe in any 
unselfish or generous afiections. 

But Shoh herself listened eagerly, and after a 

* Abdul Soona, 


wh3d whispered to Menni, looking across at me 
with a meaning expression, — 

*^Does she love me?" 

**Ya habeeby (oh, my dear), certainly I do, 
and all of you, — I want you to go to heaven with 
me, Shohl" 

The girl's eyes*, as she listened to this reply, had 
that touching look which we observe sometimes in 
a very little child, when its dawning intellect be- 
gins faintly to perceive regions of thought which 
it cannot fathom. It is curious to note this strange, 
questioning, wistful look in a grown person, if poor 
Shoh could be so called, indeed. We may have 
long to wait, for the diflSculties that surround her 
are many ; but surely God has purposes of mercy 
for her sooner or later. 

Shoh had an older sister called Fatmeh, who 
lived at Old Cairo, which is more than two miles 
from Cairo itself, but who came to spend a few 
days with her family some little time after the 
school had been started. She had lately lost all 
her three children by croup, the last only a fort- 
night ago ; and this severe affiction had so broken 
her heart, that she was indifferent to all her usual 
occupations, and "went mourning" all the day. 
But her mind was naturally inclined to the subject 


of deaths so dreaded by Moslims in general ; and 
something she heard from her young sister about 
the new school and what she had learned there, 
made her go and pay Um Usuf a visit, in order to 
ask her some questions. 

The excellent matron was only too glad of the 
opportunity, and told her " kilshei," or everything, 
as she expressed it ; meaning all of the great and 
blessed tidings of salvation which so ignorant a 
mind could receive at one sitting. 

Poor Fatmeh's heart was softened by the tears 
of sorrow, like furrows by the rain-drops from 
heaven, and she begged to stay and help the good 
woman in her washing, in order to hear more, and 
to tell her griefs. "I will be your servant, I 
will do anything, if I may stay all the day," she 

Next day she came to visit me. A greater con- 
trast to the active, vigorous, intelligent, but hot- 
tempered Shoh, could not be found. The sister 
was at least a head shorter, thin, slight, and chitive 
in appearance, with more insignificant features, but 
with a sweet, sorrowful expression in her gentle 
black eyes, which looked heavy with long weeping. 
As she sat on the floor, her hands resting on her lap 
in an attitude of meek despondency, it seemed as if 


sorrow had resumed its sway, and the interest 
which a new suhject had excited in her was for 
the time forgotten. 

Presently she noticed the portrait of a little child 
on the wall near her ; her lost darlings could hardly 
have heen very like that hlue-eyed, fair-haired 
creature ; but still it was a childy and poor Fatmeh 
gazed for a moment, saying in a soft voice, " Very 
pretty 1 very pretty 1" then bent forward and kissed 
it, and then burst into tears, hiding her face in her 
blue veil. Oh, the sorrow of a mother without 
hope! — no one who has not seen it can conceive 
how grievous it is to witness. I put my hand on 
her shoulder, and tried to comfort her by the sym- 
pathy which is a master-key for sorrowful hearts 
in all lands, and gradually won her to listen and to 
speak to me. Her boys, she said they had told her, 
would have thousands of Houris to wait on them 
by-and-bye in Mahommed^s Paradise ; but she did 
not seem to believe it, or to care for these monstrous 
fables ; it was her own baby-boys her heart yearned 
for, and no falsehoods could fill that aching, weary 

« Dear Fatmeh, God is good !'' 

**Yes, He is good," she said despondingly, as 
if she would fain add, **that is nothing to me." 


*^ They tell you that He does not love women," 
I continued, *^ but, Fatmeh, that is not true ; He 
loves us all, all, better than we love each other." 
And I endeavoured to tell her of the love of God in 
Christ, of which I knewUm Usuf had spoken the day 
before. The Moslims, having no belief in a Medi- 
ator, a ^* Daysman," who can lay His hand on suf- 
fering humanity, cannot, of course, understand the 
love of God, though they often speak of His wisdom, 
greatness, &c. The women are told that God can- 
not love them, and they are not even encouraged to 
pray. This has led to the belief that all Moslims 
hold women to be without souls, which is not strict- 
ly true ; individuals may hold it, but it is not one 
of their dogmas, though they look on the souls of 
women as of very little consequence, so that vir- 
tually it comes to the same thing. 

Whether Fatmeh's husband believed her to 
possess a soul worth caring for or not, I cannot 
tell, but certainly he was very kind to her and fond 
of her ; and as she was not handsome, it must have 
been for her amiable, gentle disposition that he 
loved her, which did both parties credit in a Ma- 
hommedan country. He left Old Cairo, at least for 
a time, and came to live near her family, who lived 
close to us, on purpose to please her, and allowed 


her to visit us as often as she lijced. I gave her 
washing and other things to do, as a pretext for 
bringing her under Christian influence as much as 
possible. Often she would come in when we were 
at morning worship among ourselves, and sit reve- 
rently watching, though she could not understand : 
and she was always ready to listen to Um Usuf, 
when she talked or read to her after school-hours. 
By degrees her extreme sorrow diminished, and, 
though far inferior to Shoh in mind, her more docile 
disposition gave her an advantage, as did also her 
husband. Poor Shoh often got into trouble, first 
with her mother, then her husband, then her 
mother again, and so on. The latter especially 
had a really savage temper when roused, and some- 
times beat her most cruelly. But I had hopes of 
both the sisters long before leaving them : no one 
could help feeling hopeful who had seen them 
listening to the history of the crucifixion, which I 
made Um Usuf read to them one day, when they 
came into school during work-hours, and seen 
how Shoh's bright face worked with emotion, and 
the tears stood in her eyes, and how the sewing 
dropped from Fatmeh's hand, and how they looked 
at one another, and sometimes touched each other^ 


as if to say, "Do you hear ihat?^ In spite of 
many Undrances and difficulties, we have cause 
for thankfulness and hope about these two. The 
seed is cast on the water in faith, and after many 
days we may find it with joy. 




In the winter season nothing in the neighbourhood 
of Cairo is so pleasant as the open desert. The 
rocks and cliffs afford a certain degree of shade, 
except just about noon, and then, if spending a 
whole day out-of-doors, it is prudent to carry a 
tisnt small enough to be easily taken on a donkey, 
and under which one can rest for a couple of hours, 
while the sun is powerful. The air is so pure and 
bracing, that it is far healthier than in the gardens 
round the city, especially at the seasons when they 
still remain damp from the recent inundation. 
Nevertheless, these moist gardens, swarming with 
mosquitos, are generally preferred to the airy 
expanse of dry sand and rock ; and our favourite 
haunt, a ravine, which we called, from its prevail- 
ing hue, the Wady Asfer, or Yellow Valley, was 
seldom disputed with us by any human beings. 


This spot was a delightful resort in the fine 
days of winter, in spite of the absence of a single 
blade of vegetation; the peculiar desert atmosphere 
producing chameleon-like changes of colour, which 
relieved it from the charge of monotony. The 
Wady was shut in by cliflFs of yellow ochre, which 
appeared quite golden, when caught by the after- 
noon sunbeams, broken here and there by volcanic 
rocks of red or dark grey, which rose in ir- 
regular steps on each side, and from the different 
levels were obtained a variety of views of the dis- 
tant city. The cliffs terminated in a high pla- 
teau, extending all along the ridge of hills, called 
, Gibel-el-Hashib, leading to the petrified forest; on 
the other side they stretched nearly up to the red 
mountain, which rose quite distinct from the yel- 
low rocks and sandy slopes which encompassed it, 
and stood like a strange red mushroom in the plain. 
Looking up the ravine towards Cairo, we could see 
the distant Nile shimmering in the bright sunshine, 
or blending with the surrounding gardens into soft 
blue and purple hues, in which the white domes 
and roofs stood out like specks of snow. Nearer 
to the eye, just at the verge of the desert, were the 
scattered groups of the Sultans' tombs, in various 
degrees of preservation, but all beautiftil. They 


are built of warm-coloured sandstone, in the grace- 
ful Saracenic style, with its curved lines and 
rounded forms, which seem turned to gold where 
they catch the sunlight. 

Many a donkey-boy now knows the name of 
Wady Asfer, and many a quiet sleep has he enjoyed 
under its overhanging rocks, while his patient ass 
stood beside him, and his employers were seeking 
fossils or making sketches. Thfe complete loneli- 
ness of our favourite spot had quite a strange effect, 
considering that we were within sight of a great 
and populous city, but, save a labourer on his way 
to the stone-quarries, a Bedouin with his camel, or, 
more rare still, a party of Europeans hastily passing 
by, on their way to the famous petrified forest, we 
never saw a human face there, except on one mem- 
orable occasion, when our solitude was interrupted, 
not for a passing moment, but for a whole day. 

It was about the middle of February, and the 
servant, assisted by the donkey-boys, was pitching 
the miniature tent, which the heat of the sun 
already made desirable, when two ragged Bedouins 
suddenly appeared, as if they had started out of 
the rocks : their keen black eyes flashed, and their 
white teeth were displayed in a grin of mingled 
curiosity and admiration at the little tent and the 



pretty carpet spread under its shelter : one oflTered 
his advice about driving in the pegs^ and assisted^ 
with his well-experienced hand to knock them in 
by the aid of a great stone. He did not ask for any- 
thing^ but I gave him a piastre, as he looked very 
poor, and he nodded his satisfaction. It is not cus- 
tomary to say " Thank you" in Egypt ; but a polite 
person looks his thanks, and a very grateful one 
kisses the article given. 

While this man was squatted opposite to us^ 
to watch the strangers' actions, another Bedouin 
came up, and then another, and another, standing 
on the rock just above us, and looking down on 
us. They showed no hostile intentions, though one 
or two were fully armed ; but before I had time to 
transfer more than half the party to my paper they 
dispersed, and went on their way to the city. 
They were evidently part of a tribe come up to "buy 
com in Egypt : " several more passed in the course 
of a quarter of an hour. A young girl, seated on 
the hump of a fine young dromedary, and balancing 
herself with marvellous dexterity, without any kind 
of saddle, rode by so rapidly, that she had only 
time for one stare of astonishment at the little 
encampment. Then a man fully equipped, on a 
very tall camelj his long Arab rifle on his shoulder. 


and the ends of his flowing drapery waving in the 
wind — a splendid figure I But he did not stay to 
be looked at. And at last all had disappeared be- 
hind the cliffs but a fine old man, with a face 
tanned to a copper hue by sun and wind, and a 
long beard, still almost black. This individual sat 
just at our tent-door, wrapped in his striped brown 
and white abba, or long cloak, and a yellow scarf, a 
good deal the worse for wear, twisted over a tur- 
ban that had formerly been white. 

It was decided to be both a benevolent and a 
safe proceeding to offer him some bread with no 
delay, having often heard that Arabs would not rob 
those whose bread and salt they had just eaten ; for 
it was impossible to be sure that he might not be 
posted there as a sentinel, and that the gentry 
with the long guns might not return with hostile 
views. We had our Syrian servant, indeed, but 
he had no arms except his cook's knife, and both 
it and he were more accustomed to contend with 
chickens than Bedouins; and the boys were not 
likely to be of the least use if there were danger. 

The old man accepted our bread, and gravely 
ate it up to the last crumb without hesitation, so 
we felt tolerably easy about the peacefulness of his 
intentions. He soon preferred a request for medi- 


Cine for his eyes, which, however, looked remark- 
ably good for his age. I disclaimed the honour of 
being a hakeem, bat, like all Ar^bs, he fancied 
Europeans were somehow naturally gifted with 
medical powers. From his description, I ascer- 
tained that no medicine could possibly have done 
any good, as his was a case of becoming blind in 
the dusk, which I had heard of as rather an idio- 
syncrasy than a disease, and certainly not a very 
terrible one in a country where there is so little 

While the old man was winking and talking 
about his eyes, a troop of little girls suddenly 
emerged from behind a projecting cliff; it seemed 
as if they must have issued from the clefts of the 
rocks, for where they started from no one could 
guess. They said they lived in a Bedouin village 
among these hills : a bright-eyed, joyous group they 
were, from seven to twelve or thirteen years old 
apparently, clad in rags, but as healthy and vigo- 
rous as possible, their active movements full of 
wild grace, and their black eyes and shining teeth 
looking like gems in their dark, bronzed faces, as 
they sprang about the rocks like kids, laughing 
and asking loudly for backsheesh ! 

I could not give money, but produced some 


cakes from the lunch-basket, which gave great 
satisfaction: several of the girls danced about hold- 
ing the novel dainty aloft in their hands with 
a variety of gesticulations ; it might be called the 
« Cake dance." 

The faithful Daoud, always thinking of the 
interests of his lady, began to talk to them about 
the school, and said they ought to come. 

The distance, I feared, would make this im- 
possible, but the idea of a girW school, and of any 
one attempting to teach girls to read, diverted 
them extremely, and amid shouts of laughter they 
cried, *^ Oh, teacher 1 oh, teacher I'* 

By-and-bye the group was increased by two or 
three lads, brothers to these girls, and by a man and 
woman, who seemed to own several of the young 
folk. The woman's face was mostly concealed by 
her face-veil of dirty lilac crape, but her eyes 
peeped above it with a bright look, and the man, 
who had but one eye, was rather an intelligent 
fellow. They all squatted round us in a circle, 
with the old Bedouin, and began, in true Eastern 
style, asking us about our relatives, reminding 
one strongly of Scriptural expressions, — " Is your 
father yet alive ? " " Have you a mother? " " How 
many brothers and sisters have you?" 


Nothing can be more genuine than the sym- 
pathy of Arabs for the loss of relatives, but most 
especially for that of a mother, which they justly 
consider so irreparable. 

The woman's eyes glistened with tears as she 
heard us tell of a broken family circle, and she 
turned to her husband, repeating the information 
with a voice that expressed much feeling. I en- 
deavoured to tell them something about that better 
land where those who loved God and believed in 
His word went after death. We were not yet 
scholars enough to read to them but of the Arabic 
Testament, though we had one, and showed it to 
them, and it served as a subject for conversation. 
They all looked at it with curiosity, and the boys 
and man each took it in their hands, and seemed to 
wish to know the contents. 

" You have heard of Moses ?'^ I said, knowing 
that Moses is a sort of hero in these regions, nearly 
all the wells of the desert being called after him. 

*^ Oh, yes 1 Nebby Moussa, we know about 
him I" 

** God spoke to Moses, you have heard that?" 

** Yes, yes, we know." 

*' Well," I continued, " God does not speak now 
to men, but listen, if you had a father far away. 


he could send you a letter, could he not ? You 
might thus know what he wished you to do." 

** Yes, lady, certainly," said the man. 

*^ God's book is His letter to man. We read 
in this book all God wishes us to do and believe." 

"Good! goodl a letter, I understand!'^ he 
exclaimed, a light of intelligence shining in every 
feature of his rugged countenance, while the old 
man gave a grunt of acquiescence. 

I endeavoured, as well as very imperfect Arabic 
would allow, to explain how *^ holy men of old " 
had written this book, taught by His Spirit, and 
how, though put into various languages, it was all 
one, God's letter to sinful man ! 

*^ You ought to come here every day," said the 
man. "Look, you will soon know Arabic well, 
then come often here and see us. Come, and read 
and talk to us. Come, and stay all day, till the 
sun sets, and then, when you want to sleep, I will 
give you a bed in my house ; " and he made signs of 
spreading something on the ground as he spoke, to 
make his meaning clearer. 

It was certainly a queer idea for European 
ladies to sleep in one of those hovels, swarming 
with vermin, and fall of goats and ragged children, 
but his good intention was unmistakeable : he was 


cordially seconded hj the woman^ and all the pariy 
seemed full of friendly feeling. 

There was no thought of gain, for none of 
them, except the little girls, when we first saw 
them, had made any demands; and the word 
** backsheesh," so dreaded by travellers, was not 
even named. 

This meeting seems to give grounds for think- 
ing that there are, among the long-neglected Arabs 
of the desert, some who would welcome a man 
bringing the tidings of salvation among the black 
tents of Eedar, and who would soon be ready to 
cry, " How beautiful on the mountains are the feet 
of them that publish peace 1" 

No one, however, who has had much experience 
in such matters, will be surprised that our next 
rencontre was less successful ; at home and abroad 
there is always this variation. 

Several attempts to find the village spoken of 
by our one-eyed acquaintance as his residence, had 
failed: the sand-hills and rising ground in the 
desert make it hard for any who are not desert- 
bred to find their way; and these little groups of 
huts resemble in colour the surrounding cliffs so 
exactly, that one must be close to them before they 
are visible. At length, guided by a column of 


blue smoke &om one of the huts^ we came upon a 
little colony of this kind, where some half-settled 
Bedouin of the poorest description dwelt, in the 
midst of dirt, dust, and rags. An ill-fed camel 
was eating a scanty heap of fodder beside one of 
the huts, and goats, fowls, and children, were lying 
in the hot sand, looking as if, in point of intelli- 
gence, there was no great difference between them. 
Our former friends were not to be seen ; indeed, 
from their description, I suppose they lived farther 
off, among the hills. 

Two or three women, clad in rags which had once 
been blue, but now scarcely retained any colour, 
came out to stare at the strangers; their faces 
were tanned to a hue almost as dark as a Nubian's, 
and their features prematurely worn by a hard life, 
but they looked very good-humoured ; and when I 
asked for a little water, one went immediately to a 
vessel half-imbedded in the sand, and carefully 
covered up, and brought me some in a coarse 
earthen jar, which she afterwards offered to the 
servant, drawing the end of her tattered veil over 
her mouth as she did so, to supply the want of a 
face-veil. Bedouin women, in general, wear a 
short piece of pink or lilac crape, or else one of a 
cream colour, being the natural hue of the undyed 


rough silk of which it is made. This is often 
hung round with heavy silver coins, and the eflfect 
is then as ugly as toe should find it uncomfortable ; 
but use is everything, and the Arab maiden would 
doubtless pity us for wearing a bonnet ! 

An old Syrian colporteur, who was with us on 
this occasion, endeavoured, at my suggestion, to 
talk a little to the people ; but his private opinion 
being that Bedouins were quite hopeless subjects, 
it was di£5cult, if not impossible, for him to speak 
in the way likely to attract them. When they 
heard that there was a school for poor Moslim 
girls commenced in Cairo, they all laughed heartily; 
and I really believe the idea of teaching women to 
read was quite as amusing and absurd to them as 
it would be to English villagers if some one 
gravely proposed to instruct their cats in the 
alphabet I 

The old man was too solemn for them, and 
wanted the tact necessary in dealing with these 
people; and, to add to his di£5culties, when he began 
to read a few verses out of his Testament, the 
servant interrupted him with the remark that 
** Bedouins were like stones, and one might as 
well preach to the stones 1" And the donkey-boys 
interfered more rudely and loudly, especially one 


of them, who was a Copt, if I remember right, 
and had the usual contempt for Arabs felt by his 

A man of spirit will not be daunted by such 
little trials as these, but then he must have a 
genuine interest in the set of people addressed ; 
and our old colporteur shut his book with such 
a despairing look, that I feared they would all 
think it a bad cause, unless I tried to come to the 
rescue, even with broken Arabic. 

" Well, is not that good that he has read to 
you ?" I asked one of the men, a ragged,'lazy-look- 
ing young fellow, who stood near me. 

"Yes," he answered, indifferently; "but we 
are Arabs, and do not understand all that." 

"You do not think, and that is why you do 
not understand anything." 

"Exactly so, I do not think !^' said he, with an 
air of great complacency. 

"But you are not a camel or an ass; you 
have a soul within you." 

" Oh, certainly ! A soul, — yes ! " 

" Well, then, you ought to think !" 

"Yes, yes! that is true!" nodding his head 
with somewhat more interest. 

I then endeavoured to show him that we had 


need to think abont our souls in life^ because death 
IS not far from any, and we know not how near it 
may be. He looked uneasy at this, and said, — 

** True, all must die; but God is good 1" This 
was said much in the way one has heard many 
far less ignorant persons say it 

We had a little further conversation, and might 
have prolonged it easily enough, but for the im- 
patience of the boys, who did not enjoy waiting in 
the hot sun, and could not understand why any 
one should care to speak to ragged Arabs like these 
people. They bade us farewell in a friendly man- 
ner, in spite of the rude speeches of our attendants, 
and said, ^^ Come again and see us.'^ 

Unluckily I had no opportimity of visiting 
them again that year, for in the middle of the day 
it was too hot to be safe, now that summer was 
advancing so rapidly, and in the evenings we 
could not be so far from home on donkeys lest 
darkness should overtake us. 

Now and then we took a drive on the Suez 
road, to enjoy the sunset over the desert, but no 
carriage and horses could have scrambled over the 
sand-hills to the little Bedouin village. 

It was on one of these evening drives that we 
had a sight of the pilgrims going to Mecca, which is 


a Sight truly well worth seeing; troops of pilgrims 
mounted on camels^ and accompanied by a Bedouin 
guard on foot, passed through the gate of the city^ 
and wound slowly along the road^ till their figures 
were lost in a soft pink haze on the desert horizon. 
The bright rays of the setting sun seemed to gild 
the white robes of the pilgrims, and the orange hues 
of the sky were reflected on the sand at their feet, 
throwing a glow over every object, almost mys- 
terious in its beauty. The stately camels were 
laden with tents, carpets, and water-skins, and all 
kinds of miscellaneous packages, — a green and yel- 
low umbrella generally forming part, and rather 
injuring the romantic effect. 

The pilgrims from West Africa had wide- 
brimmed hats of grass or straw hanging behind 
their shoulders, to be used next day when the 
sun should be hot, and with the flowing white robes 
assumed on this journey alike by poor and rich, 
and their scrips at their sides, they really looked 
the very ideal of pilgrims. Several women were 
among the company, and added their shrill zag- 
hareet (the tinkling cry used on all festive oc- 
casions) to the melodious though wild tune 
chanted by the men, and called the "Pilgrim's 


Song." Some of these women wore their own blue 
dress^ but most were in white haiksy or long woollen 
robes^ like the men: the older ones had no face- 
veil, and their weary, careworn faces made one sad 
to look at. The pilgrimage follows the fast of 
Bamazan, and that year (1861) came therefore in 
the hottest time. It occupies four months at the 
least, they say, and the fatigues and risks of such a 
journey, through the burning deserts of Arabia, at 
such a season, must be terrible for women to en- 
dure, even the men must find them very trying ; 
yet, sustained by self-righteousness, and a deluded 
idea of propitiating the Almighty, they set forth 
cheerfully on their weary road, and sing as they go. 
They certainly give a lesson to the spiritual pilgrims 
bound for the heavenly city. We are too often 
"discouraged because of the way," and in the 
"waste and howling wilderness" of aflBiction or 
diflSculty forget the "good land" that lies before us, 
and from whenccLthere is no return 1 Or we would 
sit down by the palm-trees of the oasis, instead 
of pressing onwards ; while these blinded pilgrims 
neither fear nor linger on their way ; so they may 
but reach Mecca and kiss the so-called holy stone, 
they are happy, and will bear anything; for they 


are taught that this will take away all their sins. 
Would to God they knew all that we know, and 
that their energy was turned from a vain pilgrim- 
age to the true one, to seek " the city which hath 
foundations, whose maker and builder is God !" 




The coffee-houses of the East have been so often 
described that every one fancies them familiar; 
and yet, when one first sees a "real Oriental 
coffee-house," there is a something about it, one 
hardly can say what, which both writer and 
painter had omitted, to say nothing of the great 
variety of occupants, from the wealthy Turk in 
fur-lined pelisse and ample snowy turban, and the 
respectable Caireen merchant in rich silk caftan, 
to the ragged Bedouin come up from his desert to 
'* buy corn in Egypt." Seated in a circle on the 
raised wooden divan that goes round two-thirds of 
the interior, or, if it be warm, and yet not too 
sunny, on kafassea outside the door, they smoke, 
drink coffee, and converse, at all hours of the day, 
more or less. 


But the evening is the grand time for coffee- 
houses. Then the story-teller comes to read or 
recite long ballads, telling the endless feats of 
"An tar" and "Abou Zeid," or to relate the 
familiar tales of the Thousand and One Nights. A 
well-frequented coffee-house was just under our 
windows, and I detected the tale of Abou Hassan's 
slippers one evening, before the school was opened, 
from the frequent repetition of a few well-known 
words; and the bursts of laughter at every fresh 
scrape into which the hero is brought by his 
old slippers were quite animating. The story- 
teller receives a trifle, of course, from all who 
can afford it; and some of the wealthy persons 
living in the neighbourhood of the coffee-house, 
even though not profiting by his talents, will, from 
time to time, send a ten-para piece (less than a 
penny), as a good-natured way of assisting those 
auditors who cannot give anything. This seem- 
ingly trivial fact proved one of great interest, 
because it was found that the giver of a donation 
had the right to ask for any story he liked, sup- 
posing no one else to have forestalled him. 

We heard these particulars from a Moslim 
servant who was laying the table, and gossiping, 
as he usually did when in a good humour, in an 



extraordinary jargon of bad Italian, interlarded 
with Arabic words. "The man is telling stories 
to-night, and plenty of men listen to him down 
there,** he said, pointing to the windows. 

An Arabic Testament, the Beyrout edition, lay 
on the table> and it struck me that, perhaps, an 
entrance might be gained for it through the story- 
teller. I showed it to the servant, who was of 
opinion that the man would read it; at all events, 
he was willing to try him, and, before long, brought 
back a message gI thanks, and a promise to read 
the book. 

It was matter of no small interest, and even 
some anxiety, to know how the audience would 
take it, whether our windows might not be 
smashed, or our servant dragged before the 
** zebeet,'* answering to the kadi, of which one has 
read so often, or whether the listeners would not 
merely decline having a novelty thus brought 
before them, and insist on the narrator going back 

Posted at an open window, and concealed by 
the darkness, we listened earnestly as the voice 
began, in the monotonous, half*chanting tones 
customary in the reading of the Kuran; but, ere 
long, we had the pleasure of recognising words 


which, like landmarks, served to show us where 
we were; and when we caught the words in the 
second chapter of Matthew's Gospel, of the star 
that " stood over the house where the young child 
was," it was almost like seeing the very star of 
Bethlehem shining in that dark street Five-and- 
twenty men were the audience, and mostly a very 
attentive audience. A remark was now and then 
made which it was not easy to hear or understand ; 
but there was no disapproval, for they all remained 
rather later, if anything, than usual. It was an 
evening never to be forgotten in the annals of 
Bab-el-Bahar, for never, surely, in that quarter had 
God's Word been read before ! 

With occasional interruptions, this Bible-read- 
ing continued for several months, in fact, till the 
story-teller went to Alexandria, in Ramazan, when 
it was broken off. It was seed cast on the waters, 
but yet, after many days, who knows that a 
grain or two may not be found to have taken 
root ? It was a weak effort, certainly : there was 
no one to explain, no one even to pause on the 
most emphatic passages, or repeat the most im- 
portant, and the listeners were, of course, a chang 
ing set ; but it was all that could be done undei 
the circumstances, and, when that is the case^ om 


may hope for a blessing even on the feeblest - 

About four or five days after the commence- 
ment of the coffee-house Bible-reading, the follow- 
ing extract from a journal was written : — 

" The story-teller has just begun ; we are try- 
ing to make out whether it is the hooky or only the 
interminable legend of Abou Zeid. Hark I I 
think I can hear a few well-known words,—* three 
days and three nights in the heart of the earth/ — 
surely it is the twelfth of Matthew they are read- 
ing 1 Then, again, I hear the name of Solomon, 
' greater than Solomon.' Yes, it is certainly that 
chapter I 

** By leaning out of window I can see all who go 
in and come out Some turbaned figures are stand- 
ing at the doorway; the light from the hanging 
lamp throws their dark features into strong relief 
as they pause for a minute, uncertain whether to 
pass on, or to enter the coffee-house : then one 
after another sits down outside and lights his pipe, 
or else pushes past those who crowd the door, and 
is lost to our sight within. 

** On one side of the coffee-house is the fruit- 
shop kept by Said, whose crimson tnrban looks 
quite brilliant in the light of the lamp; he is hold- 


ing out his hand to a richly-dressed Negro, who is 
paying him for some oranges, while, between the 
fingers of his other hand, he has stuck a small 
taper, which casts a bright whitish light imme- 
diately around it ; the heaps of oranges piled up 
round Said, as he sits crouched up on his stall, are 
touched with gleams of light here and there, and 
the silver coins glisten as he counts them over and 
over in his hand. It is a perfect picture, though 
one is sorry to see the poor fellow so deeply ab- 
sorbed with his perishable gains that he interrupts 
the reading next door by his energetic repetition of 
' hhamustasher fad,' or * fifteen paras !' Now there 
comes a pause, then angry voices and loud tones ; 
we begin to fear a larufd (a lingua franca word 
denoting a disturbance of almost any kind). 

" Anxiously we hasten to the window again, — 
but all is right; the reader had only stopped because 
he wanted a drink of water, and Mahmoud and 
Khaleel were quarrelling over money, and some 
boys disputing over a piece of sugar-cane. They 
become quiet at last ; the very persons whose voices 
had been vociferating, ^ You donkey 1' ^ You dog !' or 
^You Jew!' suddenly pacified, are heard wishing 
each other a cheerful good night, and the reading 
is resumed and continues till past nine o'clock," . 


All evenings are not equally fortunate. The 
other nighty when Ali went down to give our 
donation^ he found that a Turkish effendi was 
beforehand with him, and had asked for Abon 
Zeid. Another time, a singer came and droned 
but a long ballad, or several ballads, putting out 
the old narrator, but, in general, the book held its 
place pretty steadily till Ramazan. The story- 
teller was considered a learned man by his listeners, 
for one day our servant asserted very seriously 
that he was ^^ a wise man, and knew everything." 

*^ What I everything?" I repeated, incredu- 

" Yes, all about Nebby (Prophet) Daoud, and 
Nebby Issa (Jesus), and Nebby Mohammed.^' 

Of course, I endeavoured to show him that 
the most important wisdom consisted in knowing 
truth from falsehood. His limited Italian, and my 
limited Arabic, made it difBcult to explain matters 
clearly. At last I pointed to the street, where 
men * were perpetually passing armed with the 
native lamp, called a "fanous," so essential to 
carry in those dark, narrow, and un paved ways. 

" If a man is in the dark, he needs a lamp, does 
he not?" 

"Yes, certainly I" 


"Well, ^Nebby Daoud/ whom you think so 
much of, said of God's word that it was a light to 
his feet and a lamp to his path. He meant that 
he could not tell what to believe or what to do 
without God's word, — it was like difanous for his 

*^ Araftu — I understand," he replied, with a 
bright gleam of comprehension: "this is Sifanoud,^* 
tapping the book which was on the table; ^^tayib! 

We often wondered what was the effect of the 
reading so much of the Scriptures on the reader 
himself, but never had any opportunity of finding 
out. We end as we began, with ignorance ; but 
if such a work were to be ever followed up, and 
instead of one Testament, in one coffee-house, a 
hundred were nightly read, quietly and persever- 
ingly, in a himdred coffee-houses, might not some 
permanent results, some great blessings, be expected 
in time? 




A VISIT to an Eastern hareem has often been de- 
scribed, — that curious scene, bringing to mind the 
tales of the *^ Arabian Nights" — gaily-clad slaves, 
with jewelled pipes — fair Circassians, reclining on 
splendid divans — graceful salaams, and fine com- 
pliments translated by a female interpreter for the 
European ladies, — all this has been graphically 
told by many who have enjoyed the novelty of a 
peep at the ^^ caged birds." 

But the humbler classes in every place con- 
stitute the great majority, and it is among them 
that we can learn something of the ways and in- 
terests of the feminine population, which is scarcely 
possible in the artificial existence of the wealthy 
minority. The lower class of women in Egypt do 
not live in hareems, nor go out attended by a troop 


of black slaves, and, except in the custom of con- 
cealing the face, which is only dispensed with in 
some of the very poorest in the city, though little 
attended to in the country, they eiyoy a good deal 
of freedom ; and if their life be hard in many cases, 
it is more interesting, at least, than the gilded 
imprisonment of a higher class* 

Every one who attends to a school knows how 
important it is occasionally to visit the mothers of 
the scholars ; and this is more particularly the case 
in a country where education is at so low an ebb, 
that much persuasion is necessary to induce the 
women to send their children at all. 

But the visiting in a school-district in Cairo 
could not be conducted as such matters are in 
London or Dublin: the distinction of ranks is very 
slight ; and though an humble visitor will sit re- 
spectfully on the mat, instead of expecting a place 
on the divan, yet if the lady visits her in turn, she 
must come almost on terms of equality; and the 
graceful courtesy of Egyptian manners in general 
renders this easy, provided the visitor is not too 
nice to sit upon dirty cushions or mats, and does 
not manifest any disgust at the bedaubed face 
of the little one who is dragged up to kiss her 
hand I 


Some of the scholars of Bab-el-Bahar were the 
daughters of very poor artisans^ a few of a still 
lower grade, while some came from families really 
well off; and, though they were not above sending 
their girls sometimes in as ragged garments as the 
poorest, the mothers would sport such a quantity 
of gold coins, and silver and coral bracelets, as 
would have purchased several suits of clothing. 

Three sisters, who were among our earliest 
pupils, belonged to a Coptic family of this descrip- 
tion. The mother had a good business, apparently, 
as an embroideress of ^^saltahs,^^ or women^s 
jackets. We called on her one day, after some 
trouble in finding the right house, for she lived 
in one of the narrow, dark, and densely-peopled 
streets of the Coptic quarter, quite out of our 
district, though at no great distance. It felt close 
and suffocating, for sun and air can hardly pene- 
trate this gloomy region ; and one could not wonder 
at the sickly looks of the women, many of whom 
never leave their native quarter from week to 
week. The eldest of our scholars, Hynehnay a 
lovely girl about thirteen, espied us from the door 
of a neighbour's house, and ran up to greet us, her 
face beaming with smiles. She eagerly brought 
us to her mother^s residence, which was close by, 


and explained that it was bread-making day, and 
she had been kept at home to assist 

We were led through a dark, damp passage, 
up a narrow and dirty stone-staircase, till we 
emerged on a terrace, lighter and cleaner than I 
should have supposed possible in such a place. 
On this terrace the good woman's room opened: 
she seemed only to have one, but it was larger 
than any three rooms in an English cottage, and 
very clean. She apparently aimed at European 
innovations, as several of the Copts do, having 
rush-bottomed chairs instead of a divan. 

We sat down after the usual salutations, and 
the hostess began talking, first to us, and then to 
the matron, so rapidly, and in so shrill a tone, that 
very little was intelligible to me. She had the 
remains of great beauty, the velvety blackness of 
her eyes, and the whiteness of her teeth, being 
unimpaired; but her face was worn and sallow, 
and the expression anything but agreeable : it had 
a sharp, hard look, very unlike the mild sweetness 
of her gentle daughter. The youngest of the 
family, a boy of three years old, who, on account 
of his youth, was admitted with his sisters to school, 
was quite pleased to see the familiar teachers' faces, 
and rubbed our hands against his rough little head. 


quite to his own satisfaction, while we submitted 
with diplomatic coolness. Cups of sugar and 
water (the humblest forii of sherbet) were brought 
to us by Hynehna ; and just as she came in with 
them, another visitor appeared, a stout Coptic 
dame, iti flame-coloured trousers and English 
jack-boots, handsome native bracelets, and coarse 
English gloves, which looked so droll that it was 
difficult to preserve becoming gravity, while, she 
pointed to us, and said, in a loud voice, " Who are 

This was no breach of manners in her country, 
however ; and, after all, it is more honest, perhaps, 
than the too common European plan of waiting till 
the stranger's back is turned, and then pouring out 
a volley of criticism. 

Thougli a narrow-minded woman, and a very 
bigoted one, it was something gained to be on 
friendly terms with Hynehna's mother, and the 
evident regard of the children impressed her 
favourably. But the Moslim mothers interested 
me more, on the whole. 

One whom I frequently visited was a Turkish 
woman, by birth a Circassian, but reared in Con- 
stantinople, married to an Egyptian in the service 
of the Pasha. She herself embroidered for the 


royal hareems, and made dresses also ; in fact, she 
was a highly respectable milliner, though a French 
or English modiste would, be a little amazed at 
her domestic arrangements. 

The first time I went up the narrow lane where 
ffhe lived, occupied chiefly by Moslims of the lower 
classes, I was only accompanied by one of the 
matron's younger girls, and a number of ragged chil- 
dren hooted us, and called names, and some even 
threw dust, but no stones, nor was any grown 
person rude, and after one or two visits they be- 
came accustomed to the sight of a stranger; the 
women even took to salaaming civilly, after they 
had heard that I visited a sick girl in the neigh- 
bourhood; for, bigoted and ignorant as they are, 
no people sooner see or appreciate love and kind- 

The only entrance to " Sitt Haanem's" abode 
was through a dark, ill-kept stable, where her hus- 
band's donkey stood; after stumbling along the 
dirty, broken stone steps which led out of this, 
we came to a really airy, nice terrace, on which 
three rooms opened, which, with a little care, might 
have been made a pleasant set of apartments. 

An old richly-carved meshrabeevy or wooden lat- 
tice, commanded a fine view of minarets and palms> 


With the beautiful Mokattam cliffs in the distance ; 
a divan occupied this corner, covered with white 
cotton, and with a pretty carpet ; but the walls were 
rough brick, not even plastered, and full of cracks 
in which scorpions might hide. A string of beads 
for prayer, a copy of the Kuran, and a native mirror 
in a gaudy frame, were the only adoniments of the 
room, and, indeed, its only furniture, except a very- 
old cupboard of some sort, and the huge zeer, or 
water- vessel, near the door. 

The mistress sat on the floor cross-legged, with 
some fine muslins for the royal hareem in her hand, 
and at the same time superintending the work of a 
slave-girl, in coarse blue cotton garments, who as- 
sisted her in the simpler part of her employment. 
She was herself in Turkish style, i, e, her hair cut 
almost as short as a boy's in front, and parted on 
one side, a silk fillet going round the head, a 
short jacket and full print trousers completing an 
attire far less graceful than that worn by native 
Egyptians of her rank in life. Sitt Haanem was 
also less graceful in figure and movements than the 
natives, having all the Turkish abruptness of mo- 
tion ; bi^ her face, which was rather pretty, had a 
very InSnest and pleasant expression. She offered 
me a paper cigar, and, on my saying it did not 


agree with me to smbke^ laughed^ and put it in lier 
own month ; she was an inveterate smoker. 

On subsequent visits we had a good deal of 
conversation^ and by degrees her bigotry softened. 
At first she used to condemn all Christians, without 
exception^ to Gehennem; but latterly she would 
say," There are good Moslims and good Christians, 
as well as bad." She was disappointed that her 
little daughter's progress in reading was not more 
rapid; but the child's defective sight made it 
impossible she should ever learn to read; it 
seemed inevitable that she must one day be quite 
blind. We did all we could by teaching her texts 
and hymns, but, though an affectionate little 
creature, she was not clever. The mother was 
very fond of her, but not partial, as some parents 
are, to the degree of overrating her looks, and 
used to remark, coolly enough sometimes, " Hada- 
weeyeh is not at all a pretty child ; she is not like 
me I" 

One day we found the father at home, and 
made the child repeat her hymn for him to hear. 
He seemed pleased, and the mother echoed the 
words, and said, ** I know all that now ; she is 
singing it all day." 


One day, on another visit, we were speaking 
on the subject of prayer, and she said she would 
show us how Moslim women prayed. Many do 
not pray at all, for it is not obligatory with the 
inferior sex, and rather thought a work of super- 
erogation; but if they wish to be "holy women," 
this is the form prescribed, as she assured us. 

First, she tied a meiideely or muslin kerchief, 
over her head, concealing all the hair, then spread 
a shawl on the floor, by way of a praying-carpet, 
and stood on it, making a variety of genuflexions 
and gestures, rather like gymnastic exercises : the 
oddest of them all consisted in turning the head 
from side to side, as if about to whisper to some 
one behind her, but not a word was spoken I 

This silence is a needful part of the ceremony, 
she declared. I do not pretend to say Moslim 
women never repeat forms of prayer. I merely 
tell what this person, herself a Turkish Moslim, 
told me ; it may be that this ludicrous pantomime 
was merely the most approved style of prayer, and 
not tlie only one. Sitt Haanem herself laughed at 
its absurdity, and when I said, " That is not prayer, 
it is good for nothing I" she repeated, emphati- 
cally, " Yes, good for nothing I'' 


We tried to show her that the vain repetitions 
of the men were, however, not better in reality 
than silent antics like this, and to make her see that 
prayer must consist in asking for something, and 
wishing for what we ask ; but, with an imperfect 
command of language, it is difficult to keep up 
an argument 

Two days before our departure she visited 
us, and finding the scholars at needle-work, came 
up-stairs to the sitting-room, where she found me 
resting after a regular levee of humble visitors, 
mothers and aunts of the children, who wished to 
pay farewell visits. No one expressed more re- 
gret than Sitt Haanem, though, like most Eastern 
women, she showed her childish disposition by 
the versatility with which she turned from serious 
subjects or matters of real feeling to the veriest 
trifle. With the bluntness customary among these 
half-civilised people, she said, in presence of the 
new teacher, " I do not know her. I know you. 
My child loves you. Why do you go away?" 
Then, casting her eye on the table, she spied an 
English Bible, "What is that book, — is it an 
angeel?"* Moslims do not seem, in general, to 
know that we have any sacred writings, except 
* i.e. a Gk)spel. 



the Gospels. I explained that we h^d both the 
gospel and a great deal more in this book, and 
told her how, in the first part, we read of Moses 
and David, and the other prophets, and, in the last 
part, of Jesus Christ. 

"After David was long dead, the Christ (el 
Messiah), whom he had written of, came into the 
world, and died for our sins." 

*' I know lie was a prophet^ but there is only 
one God," said she. 

" True, and this hand is one hand, yet it has 
•several parte, — several fingers. God is one Spirit, 
but His Spirit is in three ; I cannot well explain, 
for it is hard, and, besides, I speak badly, but it 
is true. We, who believe God's word, do not 
worship any but God. We are not servants of 

" I believe you love God," she said, " for you 
love the children," pointing to the door, to indicate 
the scholars below. 

We had a good deal of conversation, consider- 
ing the imperfect language, and she left with many 
expressions of goodwill and regret. This woman 
has lost her husband since our depai'ture, and pro- 
bably changed her residence ; if possible, I shall 
trace her, however; and, at aU events, it is a 


comfort to know that she has heard something 

of the truths for our friend, Mrs. R , called 

on her and conversed much with her on one 
or two occasions subsequent to the visits I have 




The great scourge of Egypt is the ophthalmia, 
concerning the cause of which, so many different 
opinions prevail, but which all residents know to 
be most severe after the inundations of the Nile, 
and at all times in the closer and more unhealthy 
quarters of the city. The people of the country 
appear to suffer less with it than those in the town ; 
but, of all places, the most afflicted seems the Jewish 
quarter in Cairo, where every second person you 
meet is either suffering under some stage of the 
complaint, or else is blind, or one-eyed, or squint- 
ing 1 Some say the unwholesome diet of the 
Caireen Jews makes them more liable than others 
to this disease; but the extreme narrowness of their 
streets, and the way in which they are crowded 
together, added to their uncleanly habits, are quite 


STiflScient to account for their having a larger 
share than even the natives of the land of the 
*^ diseases of Egypt." 

In most cases ophthalmia is very curable, if 
attended to in time, but the ignorant inhabitants 
will not take care till it is too late ; nor can they be 
induced to observe any precautions against relapse, 
or to use the constant ablutions to the eyes 
without which no human doctor, however skilled, 
could have much chance of curing them. Beyond 
a bandage, put on when suffering severely, they take 
no care at all, and even purposely avoid brushing 
away the flies from their eyes. They are usually 
willing to take remedies when offered to them; 
and I found even the children either more 
patient or less sensitive than ours, in permitting 
drops to be administered to the eyes which made 
them smart. But the trouble of constant cleanli- 
ness and care is what they cannot be induced 
to persevere in. The consequence is, of course, 
that multitudes of blind persons are found who 
might, in all probability, have retained their sight, 
if well attended to in due time. 

An infirmary where the eyes were specially 
treated, and containing a few beds for bad cases 
which required watching, would be a most impor- 


tant benefit to Cairo, and, if under Christian 
superintendence, might do a double service to the 
doubly wretched. A teacher for the blind would 
also find a most interesting and extensive field of 
labour in another way; by Mr. Moon's system 
of printing, a person only acquainted with Arabic 
orally would soon be able to teach reading to the 
blind, as the diflBcult Arabic character is not used 
in the raised type, and only the sounds represented. 
Such a one would, in fact, be likely to acquire the 
'^vernacular reading^' even quicker than if his 
mind were already filled with the recollection of 
the letters and points of the alphabet. It would 
be well worth while to select an intelligent blind 
youth, and have him trained for a teacher to his 
own people; and I believe that such a one might do 
much good by reading the Scriptures to the blind, 
and talking to them as opportunity permitted. 
We see these poor creatures wandering about the 
streets and lanes of the city by twos and threes 
together, the foremost usually holding a stick to 
feel his way, and the other keeping a hand on his 
shoulder, or else seated by the road- side begging, 
like Bartimeus of old ; but, alas, there is none to 
tell them that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by! 
What a change it would make in the monotonous. 


dreary life of these men, if some teacher were to 
come among them, and say, " Listen to the history 
of one who was blind like you, and who lived long 
agol" One can fancy how the story of Bartimeus, 
and the man sent to Siloam, would interest a group 
of blind men, and how they would exclaim, 
" Mashallah, this is wonderful ! *' 

Being less distracted by ordinary occupations 
and amusements, it is possible that they might hear 
the word more readily than their countrymen who 
are in equal mental darkness; but this only ex- 
perience could prove, and as yet the trial has not 
been made : at all events, the blind form an impor- 
tant item in the population of Cairo. 

Though the climate of Egypt is so trying to 
the children of Europeans, there seems no reason 
to suppose it is unhealthy for native children. 
If they are exposed to ophthalmia, they are, on the 
other hand, exempt from many of the maladies 
common to the young in colder regions. The 
great mortality which prevails among the native 
infants seems, as far as I could learn, and also 
judging from observation, which, living surrounded 
by the poor, I was enabled to make, to be caused 
by bad management, neglect, dirt, and foolish 
customs and superstitions. To any one who 


watches their way of bringing up children, the 
wonder is not that many die, but that any survive. 
The girls marry so early that they are totally 
unfit for the responsibility of a family; and, as they 
grow old, contradict the proverb that experience 
makes fools wise, for the old women are as ignorant 
as the young, and more obstinate. The precocity 
of Easterns is, perhaps, somewhat overrated ; cer- 
tainly an Egyptian girl of twelve or fourteen, 
though forward enough in making bargains, and 
up to all the gossip of her quarter, no doubt, 
is more unfit to take care of little children than an 
ordinary specimen of an English village-girl at 
eight years old. There are, as we know, ragged 
homes in England, and yet more in Ireland, 
where order, and cleanliness, and care are just as 
much wanting as in an Egyptian one; but an 
industrious, respectable artizan's or cottager's wife 
has some notion of rearing her children decently, 
and keeping her house tidy; whereas, in a country 
where there is no female education, and no moral 
standard, the difierence is very trifling between the 
children of a beggar and those of an honest work- 
man, except that the latter are better fed. 

The fear of the evil eye, as is well known, 
induces even women of the higher classes fre- 


quendy to keep their children ill- dressed and un- 
washed^ and sometimes thej go so far as to daub 
the forehead of a pretty or highly-valued child 
with soot, in the idea that this diverts the power of 
the envious glance which they dread ! The bad 
management and unsuitable diet appears to be 
equally great among rich and poor, if I was 
correctly informed ; but, as my personal observa- 
tions only extended to the latter, I will merely 
describe their system, if so it may be called. 

The first thing is to bind the head of a young 
infant tightly round with a dark-coloured handker- 
chief: exceedingly unbecoming to the little face 
is this dismal head-dress 1 nor is the dark blue 
cotton shirt, begrimed with dust, much more so : a 
little jacket of coloured print is added in winter, by 
those who can afford it; but, with the very poor, all 
garments are not unfrequently dispensed with for 
young children, except a covering for the head. 
When it is cold weather a mother whose means 
render it possible, puts a little pointed hood of 
coarse cloth on her child's head, which has a very 
comical effect When not rolling in the dust, the 
child is always on its mother's shoulder, clinging to 
ber head with its tiny hands ; and it is surprising 
how, at a few months old, they learn to hold on as 


dexterously as monkeys ; but often the little head is 
seen bobbing feebly from side to side, while swarms 
of flies are crawling over its unwashed face and 
into its eyes, which are usually more or less affected 
with the ophthalmia during teething. The mother 
cannot see to drive the flies away, from the child's 
position ; nor, indeed, would she take the trouble 
to brush them away if she could. This way of 
carrying a child is all very well after a certain 
age, but must be injurious while the back is still 
weak. Even before the child has cut its teeth, the 
mother crams its mouth with a portion of anything 
she is herself eating, whether it be a raw onion, or 
a ball of fried meat, or salted curd, or any other 
street delicacy; and, as it gets older, she gives it any- 
thing it cries for, if it be in her power to get it The 
shrunk limbs and unnaturally large bodies of the 
young children show how ill they thrive on this 
style of treatment! If, however, the little one 
survives all this, and does not die in convulsions, 
as hundreds do, or become blind from neglected 
ophthalmia, it may, after three years old, become a 
healthy child; but I do not suppose any mother 
rears more than one in three. In our country, 
with the best care she can take of her children, a 
poor mother may be compelled to see a delicate 


child pine away for want of sufficient firing and 
warm clothes; but this is not the case in Egypt, yet 
the infant mortality is greater than with us. 

One advantage we have, however, in dealing 
with ragged life in Egypt, and it is a great com- 
pensation, I must own, for the filthy habits of the 
people, the ignorance, the superstition, and the 
degradation, this compensation is, we have no 
drunkenness to contend with ; no fear of a drunken 
husband stumbling in while speaking to a poor 
mother ; no fear of finding the mother herself gone 
to the gin-shop ! It is the one blessing amid many 
and great evils. 

I may give an instance to show the native ideas 
respecting the treatment of the sick, and the way 
in which these might by degrees be first modified, 
and then changed; it is the case of a scholar of mine, 
one of the most steady and well-disposed among the 
older 'girls. She was the only survivor of many 
brothers and sisters, and lived in a lane near the 
school ; her parents, who were poor, though re- 
spectable, being the only Copts in that lane. One 
day this girl complained of headache and burning 
heat in her forehead, which was alleviated by the 
application of a clean, cold, wet bandage, which I 
put on for her in place of the head-gear which she 


wore, and which must have aggravated the pain, 
though put on expressly because she had a head- 
ache; it consisted of a man's thick red woollen cap, 
called a tarboush^ which must have belonged to 
her grandfather, judging from its aged appearance, 
over this two cotton handkerchiefs, and over them 
a coarse blue cotton veil, each article dirtier than 
the last, and within all the matted, uncombed hair t 
The girl was better for the exchange to the wet 
bandage, but was made to resume them all on her 
return home, and brought word next day that her 
mother begged she might on no account put off the 
wraps, lest she should suffer from cold/ Of course, 
I did not again interfere, as prejudices of old standing 
must at first be cautiously dealt with. I think yet 
another handkerchief had been added, her head now 
seeming of the size of a great pumpkin I She could 
not attend to her lessons, and had to be sent home 
early, and the following day I heard that she was 
very ill, that the mother was in despair, and 
expected she would die. However, she would not 
call in a doctor, as our matron advised, but said, "If 
it were God's will her child should die, she would 
die; and if it were His will she should live, she 
toould live." This fatalism, which the poor woman 
mistook for faith, is said to be nearly as common 


among Copts as among their Moslim neighbours, 
from whom they probably have learnt it. I went 
to see the invalid, and found her crouched up on 
the floor, with a great cotton veil of her mother's 
rolled over all her former attire, so that she looked 
a mere heap of dark blue rags, except for the 
melancholy, sallow visage which peeped out from 
among them. An old Coptic priest was burning 
incense, and muttering prayers for her benefit, in 
one corner of the room, while in another sat the 
mother and aunt of the girl, looking the pictures of 
helpless grief, and with tears running down their 
care-worn faces. Both rose, however, and cordially 
welcomed me, and the mother put a cushion on the 
ground for me to sit on. As soon as the priest 
had finished his business, I asked a few questions of 
the child, and felt pretty sure that she was not in 
so bad a way as the mother imagined, and with 
proper care might soon be well again. How- 
ever, to get rid of the wrappings was out of the 
question, so was a clean bed, and sundry other 
comforts which sickness seems to Remand : all that 
could be accomplished was a promise that her face 
and hands should be washed, and that she should 
take some medicine, which her aunt was to call 
for that evening. This was something gained, and 


woman and others of her class in life, and^Moslim 
women of the same rank ; perhaps they were less 
averse to education than MosHms, as I never heard 
them say, as the old seedsman, and some others 
did, " We do not want our girls to learn." But, 
practically y it was nearly the same; for they had 
such supreme indifference about it, that they did 
not care to send the children if they wished to stay 
away 1 Ghemiana's mother was not more sensible, 
as may be supposed from what I have related, 
than any of her neighbours; but, like most, whether 
Moslim or Copt, she could be reached through 
her affections, and never seemed to forget the 
attention shown to her child in sickness. 

I learned afterwards, with no small regret, that 
the poor girl had been taken from school to be 
married, before she could read fluently, and when 
a short time longer would have enabled her to 
master her diflBcult language suflBciently to do so 1 
She cried, and begged to be left a little longer, but 
the parents, knowing she was both poor and plain, 
would not risk the loss of the match, and poor 
Ghemiana became an unwUling bride ! 




The ^^ fifty days' ^^ wind, as its name signifies, is 
the sirocco of Egypt, and blows more or less for 
fifty days during April and May; but, in these 
months, there are occasional short interludes in 
which one can breathe freely, and, by way of com- 
pensation, as if to make up its lost days, the 
Khamseen does now and then blow at other times. 
In early spring it is far from being always a hot 
wind : in the commencement of March, for instance, 
we had twice a visitation of the Khamseen, in which 
none who could avoid it stirred out, on account of 
its violence and of the quantity of fine dust, but 
there was no oppressive heat, and the inconvenience 
was altogether moderate. But the effect on the 
country was strange and ugly; the whole view was 
altered, and seemed as if under a spell ; the sun 



looked as if seen through a thin brown gauze veil, 
the distant objects dim and dusky, the nearer ones 
hard in outline, just as in a strong east wind at 
home. It soon passed, however, and on the third 
day spring reigned again in all its loveliness. 

April came, with its ripening fruits and yellow 
com, and all the signs of summer, but with it 
came the Khamseen in good earnest. In Italy and 
the south of France, the sirocco is often the pre- 
cursor of rain, and some speak of it as a soft, damp 
wind, at least in spring-time. Here, it never brings 
rain, and is invariably drying to such a degree, that 
ink dries in the pen, furniture cracks, and the skin 
feels as if it had been baked, the hair crackles and 
emits sparks in combing, as in frosty weather at 
home, and a wet cloth hung at a window dries up 
almost instantaneously. Our housetop, once so 
favourite a resort, was now almost useless: except in 
the very early morning, one might as well have sat 
in an oven ; the white plaster reflected the heat so 
intensely that we always intended to try the ex- 
periment of baking bread on it without any fire; 
but the lassitude occasioned by the hot wind is 
rather against scientific attempts I One can hardly, 
indeed, do anything that is not in the way of duty. 

The usual course of Khamseen was somewhat 


as follows, the description being taken from notes 
made at the time, "The sunset had an ominous 
appearance last night, which made the experienced 
ail declare we should have the Khamseen to-day, 
and so we have, truly! ^ Hot, hot! all hot!' as 
the pie-men say. The sun shone, but with less 
than its usual brilliancy, and when one leaned 
out of the window to catch the air, the slight 
breeze appeared as if it had passed through Nebu- 
chadnezzar*s furnace before reaching our street. 
The fixes y however, enjoyed this morning exceed- 
ingly, to judge by their increased activity, and 
brought vividly to mind the plague of flies, en- 
abling one to realise it most fully. We had an 
errand of necessity in the town, and therefore 
hastened out in order to be back before the day 
should become hotter; but, though we left our 
friend's house before ten o^clock, it was already 
toS late to be out with safety. The EzheTdeh^ as we 
quitted the shady, narrow streets, and emerged into 
the full blaze of sun, really made us feel as 
if riding into a fire. The air scorched the face as 
it blew, and seemed almost ready to set one alight 1 
the trees looked drooping, and the flowers withered, 
and the ^vehement east wind' made the sun 
beat on our heads, like Jonah: we could under- 


stand his seusations better than ever before, after 
this ride. 

"The natives did not seem to suffer at all, though 
they said it was * boiling hot;' but it was more 
diflBcult to keep up the children's attention at 
school, certainly no one who has not taught in a 
ragged school in Khamseen can quite conceive what 
it is I The girls increased the drowsiness to which 
the weather would naturally have inclined them, 
by eating poppy-heads, a most pernicious custom, 
which was, of course, forbidden when discovered ; 
but such was the cheapness of the dainty at this 
season, and so great their love for it, that a poppy- 
head would often find its way in secretly, and be 
munched as eagerly as an apple in an English 
school : they called it by the appropriate name of 
Abu naam, father of sleep ! 

" When the scholars were set down to sewing, we 
went to dinner in the ^ fezzar,' a kind of passage 
or ante-room, very airy and open : in hot weather 
people frequently dine here to avoid the swarms of 
flies which are brought into a sitting-room by 
eatables. Without a dishful of cucumbers no one 
would care much to eat in this weather, so at least 
we thought; but, luckily, these are as plentiful as in 
days of yore, and the musical cry of the cucumber- 


seller, extolling his refreshing goods, is heard all 
day at this time of year, and doubtless all through 
the summer. The porous water-jar enables one to 
have cool water even in warm weather, which is a 
great blessing, as ice is not to be had. 

"About two o'clock in Khamseen weather seemed 
to me the climax : whether it really became hotter 
from the length of time the sun had been up, or 
that one was more exhausted, I cannot tell, but 
certainly a strange, weary feeling crept over the 
frame, exertion seemed impossible, one could only 
lie on a divan, in the lightest possible dishabille, 
and pretend to read, as to real study, it was out 
of the question, and the flies made it difficult to 
draw or write, unless the room was so dark that 
colours could hardly be distinguished. Our house, 
with its^Turkish lattices, was very imperfectly de- 
fended from the sun, and the mats hung at each 
window scarcely did niore than diminish the glare, 
not being thick enough to exclude it Even dear 
lovers of the glorious sun cannot help desiring the 
hour of its setting while these hot winds are reign- 
ing. On such days one knows the meaning of 
many a passage of Scripture which had been but 
imperfectly taken in hitherto. 'As the hireling 
earnestly desireth the shadow,' says Job, — and 


truly he may desire it, if working out of doors, ex- 
posed to the sultry blast What must be the eager 
look of the poor weary hireling to the streaks of 
shadow which tell him that the hour of rest and 
coolness is near I 

"The change is, of course, very rapid in this lati- 
tude; the orange disk of the sun sinks quickly 
behind the palm-trees; the muezzin's voice pro- 
claims the hour of evening prayer from the little 
musjid (i.e. small mosque) opposite our windows ; 
children's voices gladly echo the cry; a cheerful 
bustle is heard in the street ; the flies go to roost 
on the ceiling ; the blinds are drawn up, and the 
tea is brought in to the Europeans, who find no 
cold drinks half so refreshing as their favourite 
beverage. An hour or two of comparative coolness 
ensued, but before midnight it was as close and 
stifling as ever, more so than even in the glare of 
day, and one tried vainly to sleep, and, one plan 
after another having failed, at last rose in despair, 
and sat at the open window looking out on the 
street, but no beauty was there to be seen ; instead 
of the usual clear moonlight, a whitish haze dimmed 
the sky and stars, and a mysterious sort of change 
seemed to have taken place in every familiar object, 
while the dogs howled and quarrelled more than 


is their wont, as if the weather affected their 

** Next morning the wind increased to a gale, 
and every door and window had to be closed, to 
keep out the fine dust, which, nevertheless, found 
its way through the chinks, so numerous in a native- 
built house. Out of doors, it whirled about in 
clouds like smoke, and the horizon was completely 
obscured; the brown gauze veil seemed to be 
doubled now, and it was as dark for two or three 
hours as in a foggy winter's day at home. The 
Syrian family felt as languid and depressed as 
we did, and wandered listlessly about when school 
was over. The very cat refused to eat, and lay 
flat on the ground, with all her four paws stretched 
out, as if dead! The street was deserted; no 
sound was to be heard but the sherbet-man tink- 
ling his brass cups, and the fruitseller's wife scold- 
ing her husband ; even a Khamseen failed to quiet 
that active tongue. By sunset, however, the gale 
suddenly abated, and the next day the influence of 
the Khamseen began to wane ; before the third day 
had closed it had taken its departure, and a change 
set in. 

" All was now delightful. A fresh, soft air blew ; 
the sun, though hot, no longer scorched; the 


plants revived ; every one felt alive again. But 
the fatigue took a day or two to get over, and, 
at this season, by the time one had got over the 
dBfects of one three-days' Khamseen, another com- 
menced, the intervals seldom lasting more than 
two, or, at most, three days. 

•'^ The east wind spoken of so often in Scripture 
seems to be this sirocco, as far as one can judge by 
its effects, which appear to have been always of a 
parching nature. Our <;old easterly winds, indeed, 
have somewhat of this character, but they are 
irritating from their keenness, while the Khamseen 
merely enfeebles the frame from its enervating 
effect, and does not seem to have any irritating 
quality, unless an inflamed organ is injured by the 
dust, which is its usual accompaniment. The east 
wind which Jonah found so exhausting when his 
gourd withered was evidently a hot wind; and 
the east wind of the wilderness, spoken of in 
Hosea, xiii. 15, was doubtless the same: ^The 
east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord from 
the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, 
and his fountain shall be dried up.' Again, ^ The 
east wind dried up her fruit' (Ezekiel), and *the 
east wind hath touched it, and it withered in the 
furrow where it grew.' 


" This wind is constantly used as an emblem of 
the Almighty's wrath, and seems contrasted strongly 
with those genial winds to which the blessed in- 
fluences of the Spirit are compared, as in the Song 
of Solomon, where the spiritual garden of Christ's 
Church appears to be alluded to as refreshed by 
the cool breeze, so different from the oppressive east 
wind: * Awake, O north wind; and come, thou 
south ; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof 
may flow out' " 




AMONa the tribes of ragged, vagrant boys who 
swarm in the streets of Cairo, none are more con- 
spicuous than the well-known donkey-boys, for 
they are quite a feature of the city: people are 
dependent on donkeys in a country where few who 
can avoid it walk, and where driving is not only 
very expensive, but impracticable in a great many 
of the streets. Every traveller, even the Indian- 
bound, who has but twenty-four hours in which 
to "do Cairo," knows these boys; and we hear 
them spoken of as "Unmitigated rascals I" and 
" The pests of Cairo I " or, " Smart, clever lads ! " 
and "Bright little fellows 1'' according to the 
disposition of the Frankish traveller, or the luck 
he has happened to meet with among the species. 

But few Europeans have time or interest for 
them beyond a passing remark, and their life seems 

City Arabs. 

P. 138. 


to shut them out from the chance good influences 
of the very few who do feel interested in their lot ; 
for, if a kind word is spoken by a philanthropic 
stranger who knows a little Arabic, or that the 
boy addressed has picked up English enough, as is 
often the case, to understand what is said to him in 
that language. The next traveller perhaps teaches 
him to swear, and as evil finds a readier entrance 
into the natural heart than good, the consequence, 
of course, is, that Egyptian donkey-boys can often 
say many bad words in English, and rarely any 
good ones. I remember a lad of thirteen or four- 
teen, who was one day guiding a donkey for me, 
not long after our arrival in Cairo, and who used 
some very profane English words : I reproved him, 
and a respectable Syrian servant who was with us 
spoke to him also, saying that such words dis- 
pleased God. 

" That Engeliz!" replied the boy, grinning as 
he said it, and evidently thinking himself quite a 
promising English scholar. 

How grievous it was to hear this, every Christ- 
ian can imagine, and how I endeavoured, with the 
Sjrrian's assistance, to explain to him that no 
Englishmen who feared God used such language. 
The boy seemed surprised, not having any idea. 


probably, that there were any Englishmen who 
cared for the name of God; but the impression 
was doubtless soon effaced, for to produce any 
permanent effect on such boys, long-continued 
efforts would be as necessary as with our vagrant 
children at home, if not even more so. 

While quite young, and before they have 
learned all the evil ways of the elder ones, many of 
these Egyptian boys are nice, bright children, and 
would, I am certain, be glad to learn if they had 
the opportunity. There are native schools, indeed, 
such as they are, where the Kuran is the only 
book, and where that and the formal Mohammedan 
prayers are impressed on the boys^ memories by 
constant applications of a heavy stick; but the 
class I allude to seldom go to these schools, their 
parents being too poor to afford the expense, and 
their days being occupied, either with following 
donkeys or carrying parcels from the bazaars for 
strangers, or else in begging, fighting, and scram- 
bling for a morsel of food, much as vagabond 
boys do in every great city, whether Eastern or 

There was a bright, pleasant-looking little boy 
named Seid, who often attended us on desert rides, 
being rather a favourite in consequence of his 


docility and good-humour. Some of the older lads 
are troublesome and impertinent on a long country 
ride, and will run away and leave their donkeys for 
a long time, to save themselves fatigue, making the 
youngest boy present take all the care of the rest, 
if they can manage it Seid seemed too young to 
have learned the bad ways of the others yet, and 
his lively chat, whether in Arabic, or in his droll 
broken English, was always harmless and amusing: 
he used to be both grateful for, and diverted by, our 
eflForts to relieve him from the burdens laid on him 
by the older boys, according to the invariable cus- 
tom of trampling on the weak, which is so painful 
a mark of want of civilisation. Unless we kept a 
very sharp look out, the great boys were sure to 
circumvent us, and we would see poor little Seid 
staggering under the weight of all the bags and 
baskets, hung on his slender shoulders, or piled on 
his head, while a strapping fellow of sixteen walked 
merrily by his side, munching sugar-cane or smok- 
ing paper cigars I 

Another boy, about the same age as Seid, brought 
two sisters to the ragged school after hearing it 
spoken of; but, unluckily, they were frightened by 
some one, and would not stay, but escaped and 
fled, just as their young brother had succeeded in 


coaxing them up to the door I Probably they were 
panic-struck by some of the silly fictions spread by 
our old enemy, the seedsman and his girls, who were 
ever on the watch to deter scholars from coming, 
by reports of the beatings they would receive. 

But there was one donkey-boy who was more 
successful; this was little Abdul Leyl: he was a 
fine, interesting* boy, of perhaps nine or ten years 
old. When questioned about his sisters, he said that 
he had one sister, and she was *^ a very nice sister! *' 
Their father was a servant, and they lodged with an 
aunt not far from the school-house, their mother 
being dead. The aunt made no objection to the 
boy's bringing his sister to schopl, and accordingly 
he came one mommg, bringing a little girl in a 
ragged tob, or loose dress of red cotton, and a white 
veil, and a most gentle pair of large black eyes, 
which were her only beauty. The boy introduced 
her to the matron, saying, "This is Fatmeh!^^ 
There are hundreds of Moslim girls who bear this 
favourite name, but to i>oor Abdul Leyl there was 
but one Fatmeh in the world, at that time, at 
least, and very proud Jio was of having been the 
one to bring her into tlie way of receiving educa- 
tion, which he had sense enough to think a valuable 
thing. Fatmeh proved a sweet, docile child; less 


quick than her brother appeared to be^ but steady 
in her attendance, and remarkably amiable in dis- 
position. Abdul Leyl often called at the school, 
slipping up-stairs and just peeping in, and then 
retreating, saying he came ^*to see Fatmeh!" 
Fain would he have been admitted to join her in 
study oh days when he chanced not to be wanted 
with his donkey, in the hot weather much fewer 
are in use, but it was not possible to mix boys and 
girls in the school, for many reasons. When some 
little rewards were to be given to the best girls, 
Fatmeh, of course, told her brother about it ; and, 
happening to employ him the previous day to that 
on which the pieces of cotton were to be given, he 
took the opportunity of begging me to give some- 
thing pretty to his sister, for was not she good? 
" Had not the * Sitt ' said herself that Fatmeh was 

The affection of this boy was so pleasing, and 
gave so favourable an idea of his disposition, that we 
felt much interested for him, and, before leaving, I 
told him that the boys should not be forgotten ! 

Now that a school is already preparing* for the 

* Under the Malta College Committee, who selected Cairo as 
the place where the first of their Oriental schools should be estab- 


Moslim boys of Cairo, we may hope his turn is 
really coming, if he have not been already drawn 
away by the whirlpool of bad example, and have 
lost his desire for instruction. 

The name of Abdul Leyl (Servant of the Night) 
is not a common one in Egypt, as far as I know, and 
probably some family sorrow caused it to be given 
in this instance. The singularity of the appellation 
attracted our notice, and often we observed, if Abdul 
Leyl were to be educated and brought to the know- 
ledge of the true light, his name might be changed 
to " Servant of the Day : " but, as yet, he and his 
comrades are walking in darkness, and know not 
the light. 

All who have had any experience among 
Easterns, know the importance of getting them as 
young as possible under instruction ; even at home, 
we all know the advantage which a child enjoys 
who has had some moral discipline and mental 
cultures under ten years old. But it is still more 
important in the East, because of the greater pre- 
cocity of the children. I did not observe much 
difference while they were quite young, but between 
those under ten and over twelve, judging from 
looks, for none ever knew their age, there ap- 
peared a more marked difference than we see in 


our home-schools. It seemed as if between these 
ages they became suddenly precocious, and the 
pretty, graceful, pleasant boy was changed into a 
disagreeable, rude, vulgar lad, acting as if he 
thought himself quite a man in every respect. 

The life of a city Arab proper is one of less 
actual hardship than that of his namesake in 
London : the food of the lowest classes of Egypt 
is very much cheaper than food in our country, 
and, if coarse, is not adulterated. Native bread and 
onions are to be had at a low rate all the year 
round; and sugar-cane and cucumbers, in their 
season, are no expensive luxury. I have, indeed, 
seen boys in the street who appeared ill-fed and 
wretched, but very few compared with those I 
had been used to see in Ireland. 

Their clothing is certainly apt to be of the 
scantiest possible kind, but a warm climate makes 
this a trifling evil during a great part of the year : 
one sees them shivering and even suffering from 
bad colds during the brief winter season, the con- 
trast to the extreme heat of the summer making it 
seem cold to ihemy though most likely we should 
consider it very temperate weather. Still there is 
no question that, spite of rags, dirt, and ophthalmia, 



and frequent beatings from their masters or older 
comrades, the city Arab of Cairo has, physically, a 
less miserable existence than that of the English 
vagabond boy, exposed to snow and frost, sleet and 
rain, for half the year, and to whom shelter and 
strong thick clothing and firing are not luxuries, 
properly speaking, but necessaries* Morally^ how- 
ever, the Moslim boy is worse off, because his 
chance of falling in with one to "show him any good" 
is so much smaller : as yet we can hardly say it 
amounts to a chance at all I No open-air preacher 
for him ; no city missionary, to collect a listening 
crowd, and attract their attention and draw them 
gradually from things of earth to things of heaven ; 
no kind gentleman to stop him in his career of 
vice and idleness, by asking where he goes to 
school, and telling him of the ragged school in 
such a street, and the shoeblacks' refuge in such 
another, or the reformatory in a third ; no pious 
neighbour to drop a good word and invite him to 
turn from evil. When not running after his donkey, 
or scrambling for a living in some other way, he 
is lounging about with his comrades in the streets, 
or rolling in the warm dust by the road-side, clad 
in a ragged blue shirt, or the fragments of an old 


cbya^ that '^ rough garment" of hair, striped brown 
and white, which is so familiar to an Eastern 
traveller's eye, and a dirty cotton cap, or a striped 
cotton towel by way of turban, as his head-cover- 
ing : there he lies, soul and body are in the dust, 
if one may say so, and for long years no man 
cared for his soul ; but wpe cannot say so nowy and 
we believe that no home ragged school will suflPer 
because the attention of Christian philanthropists 
has been now turned to the Moslim children 

There are a few Copts among the city Arabs of 
Cairo, but quite a minority. I cannot say I ever 
saw much diflPerence between them, except in fea- 
tures ; and even that is not very great, the Moslim 
invaders having mixed with the conquered Egypt- 
ians, so that the pure Arabian type is only to be 
seen among the Bedouins. I could not detect any 
superiority in manners and outward conduct on 
the part of the Coptic ragged boys over the Mos- 
lims ; if there be such, it is not sufficient to be 
noticed by any one not intimately acquainted with 
the language and habits of the people. But, from 
observations made not only on boys, but girls, and 
also on their mothers, I am strongly inclined to be- 
lieve that the idea of reaching Moslims through the 


Copts is a fallacious one.* These last have but a 
degraded and corrupt form of Christianity, and 
must be much changed before they can offer the 
truth to their neighbours. The French proverb 
says that " among blind men the one-eyed is king : '' 
it seems as if this were carried out in the view of 
teaching Moslims Christianity by means of those 
who have only a very little and very imperfect 
Christianity, scarcely worthy of the name. Now 
surely we should not, in a crowd of blind men, 
refuse to lead them into the right way because 
we had two eyes, and desire them to follow 
patiently while a poor one-eyed fellow endea- 
voured to guide them, though hardly able to 
guide himself I 

Besides, the Copts, though no longer persecuted, 
are yet the small remnant of a crushed and con- 
quered nation, and, as such, little likely to be 
listened to with particular favour. Though living 
peaceably together, as far as I could see, both Copts 
and Moslims despised one another, and both stood 
almost, if not quite, in the same state of ignorance 

* I do not for a moment intend to undervalue the efforts of 
God's servants among native Christians, whether in Egypt or 
elsewhere, but only to deprecate the idea of leaving Moslims to be 
converted by Copts. 


and darkness; and there seems no good reason 
fdr neglecting the Moslims^ who form so large a 
majority of the inhabitants of Egypt^ nntil the 
Copts shall be fitted to turn instructors. 

Perhaps the best motto for all who labour in 
the vineyard, whether at home or abroad, is, "Who- 
soever will, let him come and drink of the water 
of life freely.'* Of whatever creed, of whatever 
tribe, if he has not drunk of that water, he is 
I perishing, and that is enough for God's servants. 




To those who have resided for any time at Cairo, 
Suez has become a very familiar name, being, not 
merely the chief, but the only southern sea-port, 
and the key to India ; and thus it is associated with 
many important things, though in itself a very 
unimportant-looking place. A collection of flat- 
roofed, insignificant, mud-brick houses, with one 
or two a little superior, belonging to foreign consuls, 
and one large white building, which is the English 
hotel. This is Suez ; and many people assured us 
it was not worth a visit ; but they forgot the Red 
Sea. Were it not at all beautiful, it would surely 
be worth a visit for the sake of association. But 
the beauty is great : the colouring given by that 
southern atmosphere must be seen in order to be 
conceived. It is very far superior even to that of 


Cairo. The intense green and blue of the shining 
waters^ the transparent glow on the cliffs near the 
city, and the yet more fairy-like brilliancy of the 
distant Arabian hills on the opposite side, are beyond 
any pen or brush adequately to represent. True, 
there is no foUage, and one might weary of living 
in such a place therefore, and wish for trees and 
streams again ; but that any one with eyes in his 
head should see no beauty in Suez, nothing to 
make it worth a visit, is astonishing to me. The 
air is very pure and delightful, and more strengthen- 
ing than that of Cairo, which, when the hot weather 
sets in, becomes relaxing; three days spent at 
Suez enabled me to work with renewed vigour on 
returning to the school. Though exceedingly hot, 
it was not the least oppressive, and a breeze tem- 
pered the heat of the sun. 

Within the doors of the hotel everything, 
except the Hindoo servants, was English; Egyp- 
tian life seemed to have disappeared altogether; 
but as soon as one left it, the illusion was over, and 
the Arabic tongue again greeted one's ears. 

I found several studies for the pencil in Arabs 
from the opposite coast, and in children of the town 
who came to play about near the hotel. 

It must be an inveterate late riser who is not 


up early in an April morning at Suez. The 
deUcious coolness of the air at five o'clock, and 
the eiSPect of the sun's first rays stealing softly 
down the cliffs, and gilding the waves of the 
Red Sea, are a treat worth a little trouble to 

At six o'clock I came down with a drawing- 
book to sit near the door, sheltered by stone pillars. 
A Hindoo servant brought me a chair, and presently 
two little girls, natives of the place, came up, and 
furnished pretty subjects for a drawing. They 
were dressed in their best, it being a festival day, 
and were very proud of their gay print trousers 
and spangled headkerchiefs. I promised a cake to 
each if they would stand still, which they consented 
to do; and then, after admiring their own like- 
nesses, and vainly trying to obtain possession of 
them by entreaties, they begged to look at the 
contents of my travelling bag, and presently pulled 
out an Arabic tract. One of them begged to have 
it as soon as she saw the characters. 

" Can you read?" I asked. 

"A little," she replied; I was doubtful and 
proved, by showing her the letters in the tract, 
that she could not; she just knew an dUf, but no 
other letter ! probably some brother had tried to 


show her the letters when fresh from the native 

However, the child was so anxious for the little 
book, that I at length gave it to her, hoping that, as 
Arabs will seldom destroy any printed paper, it 
might some day fall into hands which could make 
use of it. A man who was loitering about, listen 
ing to my conversation with the girls, now came up 
and asked if I had another book ; fortunately I had, 
and with much pleasure saw him retire to a shady 
spot, and sit reading it for some time, in fact till I 
went in to breakfast 

The talk I had with these children made me wish 
we could have some day a branch school at Suez. 
They seemed very lively, intelligent little creatures, 
about nine and ten years old, darker in complexion 
than the Cairo children ; but one was very pretty, 
and had a winning expression in her merry black 
eyes. They would willingly have stayed longer 
with me, had not the rest of the party coming out, 
frightened them away. 

The town was all alive with the native festival, 
and we were urged to see the sports that were 
going on by an Arab servant of the hotel, who 
assured us there were very amusing things to see, 
especially some man's performance which he vainly 


endeavoured to describe in his broken English^ for 
he was too proud of speaking it to comply with my 
request^ that he would ^* speak Arabic." ** It is a 
man, — he from Jeddo — they make shoe — but not 
shoe exactly — it very fiinny, very good, you go see 
it like this," touching an umbrella. What could 
be the connexion between a shoe and an. umbrella, 
seemed mysterious; but it was explained when we 
had, under his guidance, threaded our way through 
several narrow, dusty streets, to an open space, 
where a couple of tents were pitched in the midst 
of a gay and noisy crowd. Inside one of these, 
which was what he meant by ^* like an umbrella^ 
were a set of men who wore a peculiar kind of 
sandal, between a sandal and a shoe, fastened by 
green leather straps round the ankle. Some of these 
performed a rude kind of music, with tambourines, 
daraboukahs, and native guitars, while a black man 
danced in the middle, his actions much resembling 
those of a Donny brook jig! But his jet-black 
face and rolling eyes, and the bare arms and legs 
with which he made all sorts of queer gestures and 
antics, gave a more savage air to the performance. 
The tent was crowded and suffocatingly hot, so we 
could not remain many minutes, and soon retreated 
into the fresh air again. Two or three coffee-houses 


roand the open space cm which stood the teotey 
were filled with costomers, though it was but ten 
o'clock in the morning, and the swings and merry- 
go-rounds were equally popular ; and it was dirert- 
ing to see the numbers of great men who were 
enjoying this amusement with as much relidi as the 
little children. The crowd looked like a tulip-bed 
with the gay colours which almost every one, even 
of the poorer classes, sported on this occasion. 
Among the children bright yellow was a &voarite 
dress, with the men crimson, blue or violet caftans; 
while the Negroes and Nubians wore every colour 
of the rainbow. 

We stayed here till the sun became too hot for 
Europeans to stand in, but the people did not 
seem to find the violent exercise they were taking 
in the swings, &c, at all exhausting. It was a 
comfort to recollect that cofiee and sweetmeats 
were the only refireshments partaken of by these 
crowds of people ; so, that if childish, their amuse- 
ments were more harmless than those of fairs and 
merry-makings in our more enlightened country, 
where drunkenness is the common finish to the 
day's entertainments. 

While at Suez we made an excursion to the 
opposite coast, which might well have been pro- 


longed, so full of interest is that desert, had cir- 
cumstances permitted it ; it was, indeed, rather a 
disappointment not to get as far as the palm-trees 
of Elim. But travellers are usually dependent 
on one another, and everybody is not equally 
fond of sandy deserts and camel-riding, nor, 
indeed, are all equally fitted to endure the heat 
and fatigue. So we only went one day's journey 
to Ain Moussa, a well with an oasis around it, 
situated a few miles from the Red Sea in the 
Arabian desert. We sailed across to the shore 
opposite Suez in one of the picturesque boats pecu- 
liar to the Red Sea, and then mounted the steeds 
which awaited us there, consisting of some very 
indifferent and ill-fed camels, and some donkeys to 
match I No better could be had, so it was neces- 
sary to make the best of them, and to stick on as 
well as one could without proper saddles of any 
kind. It was unlucky for those of the party who 
had never before mounted a camel, and they kept 
their seats with difficulty for the first hour ; being 
accustomed to the motion, I was more independent 
of circumstances, and could fully enjoy the ex- 
quisite beauty of the scenery. Though all was 
bare desert around us, the distant cliffs on the 
African shore with the strip of golden sand divid- 


ing them from the blue and sparkluig waters of 
the sea, changed so constantly with the shifting 
shadows made by the light fleecy clouds of the 
morning, that there was no monotony in the view 
until midday had arrived, when the heat became 
intense and produced a slight haze dimming the 
distant objects a little. But the purity and light- 
ness of the air were such, that I did not feel the 
least oppressed with the heat, though, I am sure, it 
was considerable. 

More than once we had the pleasure of seeing 
a beautiful mirage with the reflexion of the sand- 
hills reversed^ just as they would be in a real pool, 
in the seemingly clear blue waters ; as we drew 
near, a faint mist appeared to rise, quivering above 
the water, and then all vanished into thin air, and 
the burning yellow sand and pebbles alone re- 

After the mirage, came the oasis, like the reality 
of happiness after disappointments and deceptions. 
First a green spot came in view in the far distance, 
and we said, " Perhaps it is only a mirage like the 
last;" but it grew larger and larger; then the feathery 
palms became distinct against the noontide sky of 
pale cloudless blue. Then the groves of pome- 
granates and acacias, with their scarlet and yellow 


blossoms^ burst on our sight, with beds of fresh 
green at their feet, and tiny channels of water run^ 
ning in every direction through the garden. A 
few small stone huts stood near, occupied by the 
Arabs, only two or three families, I believe, who 
cultivate this small fertile spot, in the wide waste 
of ^* salt-land not inhabited," and who defend it 
from the shifting sands by palings of reeds. The 
beauty was doubtless increased by contrast, but I 
thought at the time, nothing had ever seemed 
lovelier than this little oasis with its date-palms 
mixing their long clusters of creamy flowers with 
the roses that grew underneath them, and the 
trickling sound of the water greeting the ear so 
refreshingly, as we sat under the shade. 

I sketched two old Bedouins, while the rest of 
the party were reposing, or wandering about the 
garden, and found, by questioning them, that there 
was one man in the settlement who could read, 
though he was absent just now. I gave them a tract 
therefore, saying, " He can read, and you can listen.** 
They appeared pleased, and put it up carefully. 
Another of the party, sketching at a short distance 
from the oasis, had an interesting little talk with a 
boy belonging to the place; possibly, he and the 
man who could read may be father and son, at any 


rate, they were sure to be intimately acquainted^ as 
in a colony so small all know each other well, and 
would talk about the strangers' visit, and perhaps the 
tract may not be altogether lost even among those 
wild, ignorant creatures. 

A poor Bedouin woman brought me a rose 
from the garden, just before we remounted our 
camels, it seemed more beautiful in the midst of 
that sandy waste than if gathered in the gardens 
of the Pasha at Cairo ; and I thought what an op- 
portunity one with full command of the language 
would have had for discoursing to these poor ragged 
Arabs of the oasis : he could have shown them how 
the barren, sandy desert becomes fertile, and brings 
forth flowers and fruit, when the water reaches it, 
and that Moses's well and the oasis are just an 
emblem of the Holy Spirit acting on the barren 
and sinful heart of man and making it fruitftd to 
the Lord. 

During our homeward ride the Arabs who con- 
ducted us became rude and cross-tempered, and 
wished to make us hurry beyond our powers of 
endurance, because it was still Ramazan, and they 
were irritated by hunger and thirst, poor fellows 1 
and anxious to get home as early as possible. I 
told one, who tried to insist on my camel's trotting. 


though repeatedly begged to desist, that he was 
not obeying God, as he supposed, by refraining 
from water, that God gave us water, and has never 
forbidden us to drink when we need it. " It is not 
God who says ^ Do not drink/ " I said. The man 
shook his head dismally, and looked at the sky 
anxiously, to see when sunset would come, and 
then vented his discomfort in quarrelling, with one 
of his comrades. 

How much easier it is to bear self-imposed 
trials than to restrain the evil emotions of the 
heart I These very men who would not accept a 
drop of water when parched with thirst, had no 
scruple in stealing the travelling-bag of one of the 
party which had excited their cupidity, and which 
proved to be missing when we arrived at the boats* 

It was pleasant on returning to Cairo the 
following day, to be greeted with a storm of affec- 
tionate welcomes from our Syrian family, and also 
from many of the mothers, who came early next 
morning to kiss our hands and say with beaming 
faces, " The Lord be praised, you are come back! 
Welcome I welcome!" 




The school had gone on swimmingly enough for 
some little time^ when suddenly the scholars be- 
gan to fall off^ and the numbers became thinner 
and thinner each day. To ascertain the exact 
cause was not easy, as the children who con- 
tinued to come, assigned various reasons for the 
absence of their companions, many of which were 
probably mere gossip, or fictions of their own. 
The same thing had happened before, first from the 
old seedsman's exertions, or rather from those of 
his more active daughters, his ill-will being confined 
to telling lies, as he reposed among his heaps of 
beans and lentils; then the tales spread by Shoh's 
mother, about kidnapping children, had for a time 
thinned our ranks ; and even little Saida, the miller's 
pretty and most troublesome daughter, had, when 



in a spiteful mood, kept many new-comers from 
returning, by her persuasions. 

When the school had been thus robbed of its 
inmates in its earlier days, I had tried all sorts of 
plans to get back the scholars, and to stop the false 
reporters who did the mischief. The old people 
were remonstrated with, the little torment was 
threatened, and even locked up by her father, at 
the request of our servant; but the effect of these 
and similar efforts was not very encouraging, and, 
taught by experience, I learned that the only way 
to fill the school, or to keep it well attended, was 
to go round and beat up for recruits, from time 
to time, as well as to visit the parents of the old 
scholars occasionally. Leaving the matron in charge 
of the sadly reduced reading-class, I therefore set 
out one broiling hot morning, at a pretty early 
hour, morning visits, in a literal sense, being the 
only ones practicable at that time of year, and 
took Menni with me, into some of the dirty lanes 
round our dwelling. 

After calling on one or two old acquaintance85 
we turned up the lane called "Aboubakr," in 
which several of the scholars lived, and which 
always seemed actually to swarm with ragged 
children of every age. It is very unlike the open. 


airy street on the other side of the school, and but 
for the extreme dryness of the air, it would be as 
bad as the worst alleys of Dublin or London. As 
it is, no dampness exists in the atmosphere to 
retain bad smells, and, therefore, it is not quite so 
dreadful as the heaps of dirt and rubbish would 
lead one to expect, though very close, certainly, 
the beams of some of the houses actually meeting 
over head, while all are in a state of decay and 
disorder beyond description I 

Shoh lived in some part of this rabbit-warren, 
and, knowing that she could direct us to the abode 
of others^ Menni endeavoured to find her out ; but, 
while questioning some of the little boys who were 
rolling about in the rubbish upon this point, a 
woman's voice called out to us, and, looking up, I 
perceived a tall, stout person, clad in the ordinary 
dark-blue drapery, standing at a short distance, 
and beckoning to us in Eastern fashion, that is, 
waving the hand exactly as we do when we wish 
any one to go away. The face I thought I could 
recognise as that of one who had peeped into 
school some time ago, and introduced herself as 
aunt to soma one of the scholars, but I could not 
be sure. She saluted us civilly, and requested 
that we would come and pay her a visit Menni, 


who was a great coward, hung back and begged 
me not to go, in a whisper, but this would never 
do ; no evil was apparently intended, and we were 
within a hundred yards or so of our own residence, 
and not unprotected therefore. 

" They are Moslims 1" whispered Menni, as we 
followed the woman. 

** Malesli ! (it does not signify ;) come along, and 
fear nothing." 

Some other women were looking on, rather 
curious to see if the invitation would be accepted 
or not, and smiled on seeing us ascend the broken 
steps which led to the inviter's room, which opened 
on a sort of mud terrace which seemed falling to 
pieces. Her room was large, and only lighted by 
one window, furnished with a rude wooden lattice 
instead of glass. Several persons were sitting on 
the floor, — an old man, smoking a long pipe, in one 
corner, and three or four women beside him, pro- 
bably his married daughters or sons' wives, as they 
had not their faces concealed ; several other women, 
with infants in their arms or on their shoulders, 
presently came in, partially veiling themselves, 
though only as a sort of form, for they soon threw 
back the covering, laughing as they did so. 

A young lad of sixteen or seventeen, who was. 


I think, the elder woman^s son, was the only man, 
except the old father in the comer ; but at least, 
thirteen or fourteen persons altogether were as- 
sembled by this time, and Mini's fears returned 
at finding herself in such a crowd of Moslims, and 
when one of the women patted her on the back, and 
said, " Little teacher," she whispered, " Let us go 
away ; they will only laugh at us I" But she was 
overruled, and the mistress of the apartment now 
begged us to be seated on an old bedstead of some 
kind, which did duty as divan, and was the only 
visible article of furniture in the place, though it 
was so dark that some things may have been 
stowed away in the corners, out of sight. 

After a moment's silence, in which we all stared 
at one another, the stout woman squatted down in 
front of us, and desired Menni to tell her my name, 
then patting me encouragingly, and with a most 
patronising smile, she told me to " speak." Even 
with full command of language, it is damping to 
the powers to be thus suddenly called on, but the 
difficulty is tenfold when the request has to be 
complied with in a tongue very imperfectly under- 
stood. In such cases, one can only recollect that, 
as a " broken sherd " may be used to carry a little 
fire or water upon an emergency ^ so God may see 


fit to make use of very feeble instruments ; and, 
when no better means are at hand, we can but take 
what we have. 

Some reports about the school had reached this 
woman, and she and her friends evidently wished 
to hear about it, so I endeavoured to describe the 
objects we had in view, telling them that I came 
out this morning to ask mothers to send their 
children, and to show them that it was good to do 
so ; and that Menni's mother taught them to read 
and to sew. 

When we had got thus far, the woman inter- 
rupted me by asking if the gown I wore were all 
sewed by myself, what it was made of, and a good 
many other questions, feeling each article and giv- 
ing her opinion on it before she would let us 
return to the subject of the schooL At length the 
dress was exhausted, and she good-humouredly 
desired me " to go on speaking." 

** Well, in our school we have one book from 
which we teach," I said. 

" Listen I listen !" exclaimed the stout woman, 
turning round to her neighbours and echoing the 
words ; " she says there is one book." 

" Yes, and it is the Book of God." 

" Listen, she says it is the Book of God !" 


« All in it IS good " 

"Certainly, it must be good," repeated the 

" It tells us many things ; it speaks of Moses, 
of Joseph, of the prophet David.** 

*^ Listen I" cried the echo, more eagerly than 
before ; " this book tells of the prophets David and 
Moses, and also of Joseph." These names are much 
venerated by even the poorest and most ignorant 
Moslims, who know scarcely anything of them 
beyond a name ; the woman was, therefore, quite 
interested, and pulled her son's arm to make him 

"But, more than this, the Book I speak of 
contains the Gospel also, which tells of Seidna 
Issa (the common Moslim name for Jesus), the 
Messiah, — 'how He came from heaven and died for 
us, and how good He was." I added, that I could 
tell them but little of all this, because I knew but 
little of their language ; the woman applauded me, 
however, and nodded in a very encouraging way, 
desiring me to proceed, and the others said, " Good, 
good I" 

I endeavoured, as well as I could, to explain 
that the Bible taught us to know and love God ; 
that it was the same book, whether in English or 


Arabic^ and taught all who read it the same things ; 
and that if their children did not love God^ they 
could never be good^ so we desired to teach them 
to love and obey Him as far as we could. 

"Do you pray?" 

Yes, I told her we did, and the girls were 
taught to pray to God ; the matron prayed with 
them daily. 

" But have you no pictures ?" meaning pictures 
to pray to, like the Copts. 

I told her that I allowed nothing of that 
kind, and thought it wrong to pray to, or bow 
the head to any picture or image; the pictures 
in the school were only to teach the children^ and 
to look pretty. 

" Do you not beat the girls?" 

*^ No, no I certainly not. We have no sticks ; 
books, needles, thimbles, pictures to teach them^ 
but no sticks.^^ 

All the- party laughed at this, for a school 
without a stick to beat the pupils was quite a novel 
idea, but it pleased them very well. Shortly after 
I took leave, amid many friendly *^ salaams," and 
the women dispersed. 

Several old pupils whom we met standing at 
their doors or playing about were accosted, and 


some promised to come back to school, having only 
stayed away from idleness. One had been kept by 
her mother to help make bread, and showed a face 
and arms all white with flour, but grinning with 
satisfaction at being visited, and promised not to fail 
to come when the bread was done. This poor 
child, whose name was Mellaky (princess), was par- 
ticularly wretched-looking, and did not seem to 
have always bread enough to eat, judging from her 
appearance: her name was a mockery, in contrast to 
her dirty blue rags. Shoh was out, but we picked 
up recruits enough without her aid, and when we 
returned home, pretty well heated and tired, though 
it was scarcely yet ten o'clock, an incursion of 
bright-eyed, wild, untamed little creatures, soon 
followed us, and rushed into the school-room, in a 
body, to prove the success of the effort. 

Some were old scholars returned, but more 
were new ones, and though they did not all prove 
steady pupils and come regularly, still if a few 
were thus caught, it was something ; and similar 
visiting or recruiting excursions from time to 
time would, with God's blessing, prove the best way 
of keeping up the numbers ; at least so it appears to 
me. We must be prepared for a very fluctuating 
attendance at all times in a school for the poorest 


class of children, and in a country where the girls 
are taken away to be married so early ; and from 
time to time opposition, and perhaps pei*secution, 
may arise ; but I see no reason to be discouraged, 
on the whole: there is much to hopCi as well as 
much to feary and by degrees some of these wild 
colts will be tamed down, and brought under 
Christian influence. More we cannot do : no human 
power can make converts, and therefore it is in 
perfect honesty and good faith that we can reply to 
those who say, ^^ Do you mean to make Christians 
of your pupils?" *^ We are not able to do so; we 
shall teach them God's Word, and tell them the 
truth, but our business is not to make Christians." 

The new recruits were dreadfully dirty of course, 
and it was quite diverting to see one or two of the 
earlier enlistment leading them to the water-jar, 
and assisting them to wash face and hands, saying, 
**0 girl, thou art dirty!" just as if they had not 
been exactly the same a little while ago. They 
were all promised a treat, that is to say, a visit to a 
garden, their highest idea of enjoyment, if they 
were good and came steadily to school, and the 
hope was doubtless an assistance to some weak 

It was on this day, and while the children were 

BECBUmNG. 171 

just going to commence needlework (that is^ about 
the hottest part of the twenty-four hours), that we 
ha4 a specimen of domestic life of a very painful 
kind. Screams and loud talking in the lane at- 
tracted our attention, and looking out of window, a 
barufa^ or street rowy was perceived to be going on. 
A young woman was struggling in the midst of a 
crowd, and two older women beating her furiously 
and tearing her clothes, while she shrieked and 
scolded in return, and the crowd, who were chiefly 
women and children, did not seem to try and 
rescue her. We soon saw that poor Shoh was the 
victim, one of the women dragged her along the 
ground by her long hair, her veil having been 
torn oflF, and struck her when she attempted to 
rise. I sent XJm XJsuf down to try and separate 
them, but ere she could reach them, Shoh had 
been still ftirther aggravated ; a boy, instigated by 
one of the women, rushed on her and bit her arm 
and shoulder cruelly ; she then rolled on the ground, 
like a wild animal, refusing to rise even when the 
matron came up and tried to help her ; presently 
she started up by a sudden effort, and began raving, 
and I fear swearing, at her tormentors, who seemed 
meditating a fresh attack. 

XJm IJsuf looked up to the window and said. 


^* What shall I do, she will not come with me? " I 
ran down myself, hoping she might yield to me ; 
the crowd, which had been augmented by several 
men, did not attempt to make way for me, but 
when I gently pushed one or two of the women, 
they looked round and then drew back a little, so 
that I could force a passage through to the sobbing 
Shoh ; I caught her arm, and said, " Come, my poor 
child; come with me!" She followed without a 
word, nor did the women oppose her departure; 
they were no others than her own mother and aunt, 
who had been provoked with her for declining 
to lend the aunt a new jacket she had just made 
for herself 1 

I led the poor victim upstairs into the matron*s 
room ; she was a deplorable figure, with her dishe- 
velled hair and torn and dusty dress, and face 
flushing crimson through its dark skin, and all 
stained with tears and dirt. She stripped up her 
sleeve, and I saw the arm actually bleeding and 
bearing the marks of the boy's teeth, her own 
cousin, he probably was, for the aunt was the one 
who had set him on to this cowardly and savage 
action to revenge her supposed wrong! I bound 
up the wound with a bandage steeped in arnica 
and water, which healed it entirely in a couple of 


days, by being renewed occasionally. But the bit- 
ter feelings excited by such a scene were not likely 
to be so soon cured. She was left to lie down, 
after a composing draught, on the matron's bed 
for an hour's rest, after which she went quietly 
home. Does not such a scene show the crying 
necessity for female education in the East? 




I FEAR our English friends would have said we 
were a disorderly set, could they have seen the 
preparations for a little excursion given to the 
children in the month of May last year. 

To be sure it was a strange contrast to the 
'^school-treats'' now so familiar to all who take an 
interest in the rising generation ; but " with wolves 
one must howl," says the German proverb, and 
without carrying out this very liberal-minded axiom 
to the uttermost, one must accommodate things to 
national tastes in a certain degree ; and, moreover, 
even the order and discipline we hope in time to 
attain, cannot be expected all at once. 

Instead of a tidy and somewhat stiff-looking 
mistress, in a spotless bonnet and shawl, and well- 
ironed collar, ushering an array of little damsels 


in brown-stuff frocks and white tippets, or, if not 
in uniform, at least "got up" with new ribbons on 
their straw bonnets, and as much starch as possible 
in their clean pinafores, all waiting the word of 
command in rows of military precision; instead of 
this, what a scene of confusion we were, in spite 
of the matron's frequent *^ Be quiet, O girls 1 wait 
a little!" 

By six o'clock in the morning a numbep: of the 
scholars were rushing up and down stairs, and I 
believe at a still earlier hour some had been sitting 
on the door-sill, clamouring to set out for the 
garden, and assuring us that it was quite time, 
*^ for it was daylight P' 

However, could our friends have seen the same 
set Yfhen freshly caught a few months before, they 
would have thought that, under the circumstances, 
the progress was very fair. If they were obstre- 
perous, poor little things ! they would come when 
called, and do what they were told, and were 
eagerly expecting an excursion with their Christian 
teachers, though, so timid and unused to stir from 
home are Eastern girls, that a little while ago they 
would not have ventured the length of the street 
with us, nor would the mothers have allowed them 
to go, so that the very tumult of joy implied a 


change for the better, as showing the confidence 

While we hastily drank our coffee, the sound of 
joyous young voices was heard on the stairs, — and, 
when we descended, some were squatting on the 
steps at the door, and others dancing in the matron^s 
room, while she performed her toilet ; that excellent 
woman, not being given to fuss about trifles, bore it 
all with good-humoured placidity, only now and 
then remarking that she should lose her head, or 
something to that effect, to which her scholars 
replied by coaxing down her dress with their hands, 
or patting her affectionately on the back ; which, 
be it remembered, is not a disrespectfiil action to a 
superior in Egypt, nor does it imply the familiarity 
it would among us. A curious assembly the young 
folks made certainly ; some had only a plain blue 
cotton robe, scanty and ragged, others had gay 
print trousers, and one or two sported an old silk 
jacket with tarnished gold embroidery; all had 
their heads bound with kerchiefs of various kinds, 
and a veil of some sort was indispensable even to 
the poorest. Altogether they looked as if their 
attire had been taken out of an old clothesman^s 
bag, or as if they had all obtained access to a lady's 
chest of drawers, and pulled out old ragged scarfs 


and worn-out shawls to their hearts' content. But, 
in spite of the odd mixture of new and old clothes, 
rags and finery, there was a certain grace which 
seemed inherent in them all. Every Egyptian 
girl knows how to put on a veil : if you lend her 
an old table-cloth, she will with one turn of her 
hand throw it round her in the most graceful folds 
possible, and wear it as no European child can 
manage to do : even little Haanem, who was but 
five years old, would make a large pocket-hand- 
kerchief into a veil if she got the opportunity I In 
accordance with the known sentiments of the 
teachers, all had clean faces and hands ; and these, 
with a merry and happy expression of countenance, 
are certainly the most essential adornments for any 
kind of festival. There was but one take-off* to the 
general gaiety, and, selfish as children naturally 
are, I think some of them felt it, and this was the 
group of little boys who stood round the happy 
party at the door, wishing they could accompany 
their sisters, and looking wistfully at the prepara- 
tions for a treat they could not share. 

It was impossible, with deference to Moslim 
prejudices and habits, to mix boys and girls in 
school, and to include them in the "pic-nic" 
equally so, but it was trying to the little fellows, 



and we felt extremely for them. Several, who had 
sisters at school, had begged frequently to be ad- 
mitted ; and not very long before this, a little mob 
of little boys, " who lived in the lane," had assailed 
our door with shouts of ^* O teacher ! my teacher! 
we wish to come to school!" so it was not merely 
the intended festival that made them feel envious 
of their sisters, though it naturally put the climax 
on such feelings. At the last moment, the matron 
having forgotten something, her pipe, perhaps, 
went back for it, and happened to notice a boy of 
ten years old standing sadly at the door, his great 
black eyes looking earnestly at the departing group, 
and she heard him exclaim in a piteous voice, *' I 
wish I were a girl I" "No one can fully estimate 
this speech," said a friend of ours, who had spent 
his earliest years in the East, *^ who has not been 
intimately acquainted with the feelings and habits 
of those countries." It was, indeed, a triumph to the 
little school that it caused an Egyptian boy, even 
for a moment, to wish himself a girl I but it was a 
sad triumph just then, for what could be done? All 
that was possible was to assure the poor boy, which 
I did on our return, finding him still loitering 
about, that the hoys' case should be made known 
to our countrymen, and that, perhaps, some of them 


who loved poor boys, and made schools for them in 
England, would spare something for poor boys in 

Metawaly, for that was his name, was son to 
the man who kept a fruit and cucumber shop under- 
neath the school, and, being so near a neighbour, he 
would often steal up-stairs to see what the girls 
were about, and beg to be taken in, that he might 
learn also; and it was grievous to have to refuse so 
willing a pupil. 

But to return to our festival: at seven o'clock 
the children, with the matron, were sent on in an 
advance guard, and we followed shortly after, a 
donkey being laden with carpets, and the servant 
carrying a basket with the eatables. These con- 
sisted of cakes flavoured with saffron, and a large 
parcel of native sweetmeats, halaweliy as all dry 
sweets are called. The most favourite sort was a 
cake made of native treacle and beaten egg, with 
grains of sesame strewn over it. CoflFee, in the 
Eastern style, was to be added to these dainties. 
It was extremely hot, even at this hour, but the 
Khamseen was not blowing, the heat was not, 
therefore, oppressive. 

The owner of a garden to which we had on a 
previous occasion taken the children, would not let 


US in now, as his crops were in a state to be easily 
injured ; and he did not know, poor man ! that the 
girls were now trained sufficiently to be trusted 
not to do mischief, which really was the case. 

We were, therefore, obliged to choose a quite 
retired spot in the Ezbekieh, that great public 
garden, which might be made so beautiful if pro- 
perly cultivated ; but even in its rude condition it 
was quite a pai'adise to these children. At so early 
an hour, there was little fear of interruption for us, 
and the 'spot selected, under an immense sycamore 
fig-tree, and surrounded by hedges of myrtle and 
pomegranates, was quite removed from the road* 
It is a custom, though whether a legal one or not 
I do not know, for every one to pick what flowers 
he can find in the Ezbekieh. The boys, however, 
are beforehand with them in general, and pick 
every rose-bud for the coflFee-houses ; still a few 
were discovered among the hedges, and plenty of 
yellow acacia blossoms, and a few scarlet pome- 
granate flowers. Each little girl had soon the hap- 
piness of having a flower stuck into her head. 

The clapping of hands and chattering were con- 
siderable as the simple preparations were made. 
A red Arab blanket had been spread on the ground 
for them to sit on, and cakes and cofiee were served. 


while the matron sat calmly smoking her narghtUh^ 
or water-pipe, on her own carpet close by. 

One or two peasants passed, but XxmAl do other 
notice of us than giving a good-hnmonred smfle. 
It was too early in the day, as before remarked^ 
to be at all public. A solitary Italian, howerer, 
chanced to be taking a morning walk, and was 
much surprised at coming suddenly upon oar 
party. He seemed to be a respectable tradesman, 
and was as much interested as astonished at the 
novel sight. He politely inquired who these 
children were, and what had brought tiiem here? 
When he heard that it was a school, and that most 
of the pupils were Moslims, he expressed much 
surprise, and said he knew the French nuns had a 
school, but he believed the pupils were all Copts. 

" We have both," I replied ; ^ but this school 
is very different from the one you speak ofc Those 
ladies do not teach God's Word« Here, it is the only 
book the children read. We do not consider that 
education is worth anything unless it is founded cm 
the Word of God." He quite agreed to this, and 
assured me that he had a little girl of his own, 
whom he would not send to school, because he did 
not choose to place her under the care of the nuns* 
We had a little more conversation, and he accepted 


an Italian handbill with pleasure, wishing us all 
success : he then touched his hat respectfully and 
bade us good morning. 

The older children had appeared frightened 
during the interview ; so little used are they to in- 
tercourse with Franks, or, indeed, with any strange 
men, that they appeared to think this harmless 
person a sort of ogre. One of them, clasping me 
round the waist as soon as he was gone, exclaimed, 
"O teacher! were you not frightened?" just as 
she might have done had any one come safe out of 
an encounter with a wild bull. 

*^ What should I have been frightened at ?" said 
I, '* the gentleman was very good-natured; he told 
me he had a little girl of your age, and wished 
peace to you all." 

** Oh, but he was a Frank 1 I was so frightened 
for you; very much frightened I " 

When the feast was over, the younger ones 
danced Jn a circle, waving little boughs in a per- 
fect ecstasy of merriment ; and very picturesque 
they looked at a distance, with their floating veils 
of blue, white, or red : the rags did not make any 
show at a hundred yards off, and the group was so 
joyous and graceful 1 But the older girls seemed 
to find no pleasure so great as following us about. 


pointing to the flowers, and frequently throwing 
their arms round us, exclaiming, *^ I love thee I I 
love thee much!** with eyes really overflowing 
with affection. How often had it been said, *' Yon 
can make nothing of Moslim girls !** but the key 
of love is wonderftdly powerful, and equally so 
in every land, in opening the doors of young 

When it was too hot for us to walk any more, 
they all insisted on sitting down in a circle round 
us, and while we made garlands to amuse them, 
they sang a sort of extempore song, with clapping of 
hands, something in the style of the Nile boatmen, 
the chorus being, ** The teacher has brought us to 
the garden! Oh, the garden I the garden I '^ and 
so forth. 

This kind of chanting, with words suited to the 
occasion, appears to afford great delight to all the 
natives here, and is common to both Arabs, Nu- 
bians, and Egyptians. If the tune is not very 
melodious, the time is always strictly kept, and 
the hand-clapping is as r^ular as a practised 
drummer's notes. When they had enjoyed this to 
their hearts' content, we told them to sing their 
hymn, " There is a happy land.** 

One exclaimed, just as they had ceased ting* 


ing^ '^ How pleasant it is here in the giirden^ is 
it not?" 

"Yes," I answered; "but, O Saida! I know 
of a better place, where I shall go one day — 
inahallah ;>Bjid there the roses have no thorns," I 
added, looking at some who had scratched their 
hands in the attempt to get a few roses from the 
thorny bushes. 

" O my teacher I will you not take me with 
youthere?^^ said the child; and several little voices 
echoed, "Take me 1" 

It made an opening for a little conversation 
about the land 

" Where fairer bowers than Eden bloom, 
And never- withering flowers." 

The young hearts were softened by innocent happi- 
ness, and they listened willingly, and asked many 

"O my teacher! you said we should have 
white robes there," exclaimed one bright little 
girl. " Will they not be always clean ?" 

I endeavoured to show her that the outward 
whiteness and purity, so often mentioned in " God's 
Book '' as belonging to the robes of the redeemed, 
were emblems of the purity of heart of those who 


can no more sin. This image is peculiarly pleasant 
and intelligible^ we find^ to the youngest and most 
ignorant. After a little more talk it was thought 
time to retreat^ lest our shady spot should be in- 
vaded; and^ though but ten o'clock^ it was already 
becoming very hot^ so the veils were assumed and 
the carpets packed up, and the joyous party re- 
turned home* 




When the weather became too hot to spend after- 
noons in the desert, or, indeed, to go out at all, 
except in the early morning, unless from abso- 
lute necessity, we used to make occasional excur- 
sions before breakfast, on donkeys, or else in 
a carriage on the road to Mattarieh, the village 
near which is the site of old Heliopolis, with its 
famed obelisk, and a certain old tree venerated 
by all the Papists and native Christians as that 
under which the Virgin reposed in the ''flight 
into Egypt" 

Sometimes we took our coffee among the deli- 
cious orange-groves of Mattarieh; not exactly under 
the '' Virgin's tree," but at a spot nearer the vil- 
lage, and more agreeable, though less famous. 
Here, at eight o'clock in the morning, a freshness 


was yet to be fotyid in the air, enhanced by the 
little rills of water trickling among the orange- 
groves around us, as the water-works plied from 
a well close by ; and the snowy blossoms perfumed 
the soft morning breeze with their fragrance, and 
were so abundant that we gathered handfals with- 
out the owners expressing the least annoyance. 
But pleasant as were the luxuriant gardens of 
Mattarieh, it was not possible to get so far very 
often on account of school, as it was desirable to 
be at home before ten o'clock. So we sometimes 
were content with a more humble place, which, 
if not so rich in verdure and shade as the favoured 
*'City of the Sun," was yet a very agreeable spot 
for an early breakfast in hot weather. This was 
a grove of tamarisks, not the stunted bushes we 
see by the coast in our northern climate, but 
tall, graceful trees, whose feathery foliage made 
a light shade on the yellow sand; on one side 
were barley-fields, irrigated by a sacchia, which 
was situated on a little eminence in the midst 
of the grove, and on the other the wide desert, 
stretching away towards the red mountain, so 
that it was just on the boundary between ctdti- 
vation and the wilderness. 

The first time we came here it was about the 


second week in April, and the harvest was in full 
operation, and made a very picturesque sight : it 
was between seven and eight in the morning, and 
already the reapers had almost finished their work ; 
the camels were tied to the neighbouring trees in 
readiness to carry off the load, and while we sat 
drinking our coffee, in a shady spot near the wall 
of the sacchia, we had the amusement of seeing the 
whole process, — the patient animals laden with 
immense piles of com, no need here to leave it to 
dry in ^shocks, the women carrying smaller bundles 
on their heads, and the gleaners then hastening to 
gather up the stray ears that remained. 

About a week later, on coming to the same 
place with a friend, we found the scene quite 
changed ; the reapers and gleaners had been sue* 
ceeded by a large flock of sheep and goats, which 
were browsing on the leaves of the thorny acacia, 
and picking up a few scattered ears which had even 
escaped the gleaner's eye: a little scanty grass 
grew here and there among the stubble, and was 
eagerly sought for by the great shaggy sheep. 
The older ones really resembled animated door« 
mats, and were very ugly, but the lambs, with jet^ 
black head and throat, and snow-white fleece, were 
pretty creatures. The goats were of two descrip- 


tions^ one with long hair and hanging ears, which 
IS graceftil enough ; the other, which is the com- 
monest in the neighbourhood of .Cairo, with short, 
smooth hair, of a fawn colour, spotted with white, 
and a hooked nose, and no horns. This last is not 
at all pretty ; but the general eflFect of the mixed 
flock dispersed over the stubble-fields had a pleas- 
ing effect, and our friend's children were, of course, 
in raptures with the lambs and kids, as children 
always are; but the sulky-looking shepherd who 
had charge of them was by no means pleased at 
our admiration. It seems that he feared the evil 
eye when he saw us gazing with pleasure at his 
flock ; admiration being supposed to imply coveting^ 
and coveting to give the evil eye. What a base 
comer of the human heart such a superstition 
reveals! So the shepherd actually called his 
sheep and goats away to a more distant field, where 
we could see but *^ the uttermost part of them, and 
could not see them all." 

Presently, a young girl who was strolling about, 
apparently without anything to do, her morning 
labours being over, as it was now eight o'clock, or 
more, came up to our party, and saluted us good- 
humouredly, looking curious enough to see such 
unaccustomed visitors in her quiet grove. Our 


friend^ Mrs. R , invited her to sit down beside us, 

and entered into conversation with her. She was 
an interesting-looking creature, though her features 
were not particularly handsome, except her eyes, 
which were full of intelligence, and of a sort of 
olive colour, which I never before saw in an Egyp- 
tian girl, black being the universal hue. Her com- 
plexion was darkened by exposure to the sun, to a 
much deeper brown than that of the inhabitants of 
the city, and made her white teeth look more bril- 
liantly white by contrast. She might have been 
eighteen or more, to judge by looks, but was, no 
doubt, at least three years younger. In the country, 
the girls do not appear to be so early married as in 
the towns, for Zeynab, so she told us she was 

named, was unmarried still. Mrs. R read her 

a few passages out of her Arabic Testament, but so 
utterly fallow was the girl's mind, not only ignorant 
of everything beyond the narrow round of material 
concerns in which she had been reared, but unused 
to think at all, that she found it better to talk than to 
read. The girl became interested ; she had intelli- 
gence, and she listened and asked questions, and had 
evidently no desire to go away. When the children 
could no longer be kept from demanding their 
mother's attention, and she was obliged to leave 


her new pnpU^ inBtead of taking her departure^ Zey- 
nab came to sit beside me^ and ask what I was 
doing. I was drawing. A picture of any kind 
was, of course, a complete novelty to her, but, on 
being shown the trees, &c., and then told that these 
marks and colours were to represent them, she 
understood the object very readily, and watched 
the process with great satisfaction. I then called 
her attention to the beauty of the trees, and talked 
about gardens, every Egyptian delights in a gard^i 
beyond anything else, and then related to her the 
story of the garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve. 
When we came to the sentence of death, I asked 
where she thought she would go after she died. 
She opened her bright eyes very wide, and then 
drooping the long black eyelashes over them, and 
raising her hands with a gesture between im- 
easiness and indifference, replied, " Marafsheh ! " (the 
common Egyptian contraction of the words mean- 
ing, " I do not know,^' or ^^ I know nothing of it"). 

** You have a soul, Zeynab; it is not onlymenwho 
have souls, every child, every girl, has a souL'' 

*^Yes, lady, Iknowit.'" 

** Have you not heard that every soul must go 
either to heaven or to hell ? Have you not heard of 
heaven and hell?" 


'* Yes, I know/* she said again. 

** Well, when this is all become dust, touching 
her arm, where do you think your soul will go?" 

" Marafsheh," she repeated, very sadly, hang- 
ing down her head. 

I then endeavoured to repeat what Mrs. R • 

had been telling her of the plan of salvation, for, to 
a mind which has never been exercised on any 
unseen object, and has always lived only for what 
is positively tangible, frequent repetition must be 
necessary before a totally new set of ideas can make 
any permanent impression. 

Poor Zeynab had no want of intelligence by 
nature, and there was a curious wistful expression 
in her face as she said, *^Yes, the lady told me, 
the lady said that — oh, she is very good, that lady, 
very nice, she told me much 1 " 

'* You Mahommedans are always afraid of death, 
is it not so?" 

** Oh yes, greatly afraid 1 " she echoed, shuddering, 
and contracting her features with terror at the very 
word ; " and you are not afraid, nor that lady ? " 

** Those who trust in the Messiah, whom she told 
you of, need not fear death, because they will be 
very happy in heaven : it is good up there, much 
better than here." 


Zeynab remained silent for some minutes^ with 
a puzzled, half-dreamy look in her eyes. Heaven 
was such a vague, unmeaning word to her; how 
was it good; what was it, to be so desirable? 
she could not take it in. Presently she noticed a 
ring I wore, and with childish versatility began ex- 
pressing her delight and admiration : *^ I wish I had 
a ring like that 1 but I have none," she exclaimed. 

" Well, Zeynab, in the place we were speaking 
of they will wear golden crowns on their heads." 

" What?" she cried, eagerly, as if she now caught 
a notion that she could comprehend, " what I gold 

" Far more beautiful: and they wear robes of 

''All white?" she asked, taking hold of her dirty 
blue cotton veil with rather a contemptuous air. 

" Yes, white, and clean, and bright, and beauti- 
ful, because their hearts are clean. ^^ 

Her interest was now again fixed: instead of 
a vague, unreal, incomprehensible thing, she had 
a notion of some place which she could in a faint 
degree conceive; the outward glory, which was 
all the childish mind could yet seize hold of, was 
brought before her, and she was willing to converse 
about the love of God in providing a place of 


happiness for His children, and to hear more of 
"Him the lady had talked about." 

Mrs. R now rejoined us, and taught the 

girl a short prayer, which she made her repeat 
several times, and which she promised to say every 
day. She parted from us with regret, and begged 
we would come again. Circumstances unfortunately 
prevented this for a long time ; the hot winds had 
set in, and were so exhausting that it was im- 
possible to do more than drag through the daily 
business of each day ; one hindrance after another 
came, and when we did drive in that direction no 
Zeynab appeared, though we looked anxiously for 
her. At length, a very short time before our 
departure, we again made an expedition to the 
tamarisk -grove. It was too hot now to stay as 
late as we had done three weeks or a month before, 
and I feared that the poor girl was quite lost to us, 
not a creature being visible near the sacchia but 
an old woman with a very forbidding countenance, 
who was washing clothes at one of the trenches. 
But, while engaged in putting away the drawing 
materials, in order to return home, I suddenly 
heard a voice speaking in joyful tones of greeting, 
and on looking round, Zeynab appeared, her bright 
eyes sparkling like two precious stones in her sun- 


burnt face, as they peered out from the folds of her 
ragged veil. After a good deal of hand-kissing, 
and many expressions of welcome, she explained 
that she had been wishing much to see us again, 
and expressed great sorrow that " that lady " was 
not of the party to-day, and to hear that she had 
been ill. She said, *^ Every time I heard a carriage 
drive on that road," pointing to the road leading to 
Mattarieh, *^I ran to see, but no, always no, you 
were not there ! " I asked if she remembered the 
little prayer. She said she had repeated it at first, 
but now had forgotten the words. I told them, 
and made her repeat them several times, shorten- 
ing even that short sentence to suit her memory, 
unused to leanu We had a little talk, and she 
seemed much interested and pleased. 

In honour to an Egyptian girl, it should be told 
that neither on this nor on our first interview did 
Zeynab ask for a "backsheesh,^^ or seem tp have any 
idea of getting money from the strangers, although 
evidently poor; and, in general, the village children 
and girls are all clamorous for backsheesh, as soon 
as they see a European. I gave her, however, 
a piece of money at parting, saying I was going 
away, and wished, as I might never see her again, 
to give her a present. She drew back at first, and 


when she accepted it^ she said^ in a deprecating 
manner, " I did not ask." This looked as if there 
was a good natural disposition in the poor girl. 

She was recommended to our good matron, 
who we hoped might find her out and talk to her 
again; but illness, the increasing business of the 
school, and a variety of other circumstances com- 
bined, with the absence of both our friend and our- 
selves from Cairo, to prevent the tracing of poor 
Zejmab, and we know nothing more of her. 

But there is One who does know, and whose 
eyes are in every place. The eye that never 
slumbers has been watching the young Eg3rptian 
on the borders of the desert, as surely as if she 
were known to hundreds of her fellow -creatures. 
We cannot but hope that in some way she may 
yet be taught by His Holy Spirit, and learn to 
tremble no more when the name of death is 




To unite a few poor women in a Christian's house 
in the great Moslim city is a more important thing 
than might at first be supposed^ and a far more 
difficult one than any one can imagine who has not 
closely studied Eastern customs^ or resided among 
Eastern women. 

A few months before, it had seemed as far off 
as a castle in the air, but, " straw upon straw the 
nest is built," and little by little, love and patience 
aided by the grace of God, can soften prejudice, 
and make a little opening for the light where all 
was " confusion of darkness." 

The means of reaching the poor women in this 
place were, indeed, few and weak, compared to the 
machinery attainable in our cities at home, where 
we have a common language in which to converse. 


and where even the lowest have usually some idea, 
however imperfect, of what is meant by education 
and religion, though possessing never so little them- 
selves. Here, among the MosHm women, it is like 
working on ground so long hardened by the sun as 
to resemble actual stone, and only after repeated 
eflTorts, the pickaxe having ^produced some little 
effect, it is shown to be clay after all 1 

The habits and customs, so opposed to improve- 
ment, and the utter neglect from generation to 
generation, have produced a hardened insensibility 
towards anything like change^ and an aversion to 
mental effort of any kind, that makes it hard work 
at first; but, in time, repeated efforts, and a judicious 
use of opportunities y begin to tell, and then, when the 
outer surface is penetrated, the nature is found to 
be much the same in all essentials, whether the 
skin be white or brown. And if there are greater 
difficulties in dealing with Moslim women than 
men^ on account of their childishness and frivolity, 
there is one advantage on the other hand, and that 
no small one, it is that an amount of Arabic 
which would be of little use among those capable 
of argument and reasoning, will really go a good 
way with those whose ideas are so circumscribed 
that they must be dealt with as mere children. 


When we consider that they generally marry at 
twelve years old, we cannot wonder that they are 
always children. 

It is impossible to dwell among these poor 
creatures, to watch their daily monotonous round 
of toil, their slovenly dress, the filth and discom- 
fort of their homes, their frequent quarrels, and 
vacant mirth, to see the wretched mismanage- 
ment of their little ones, and the degraded position 
they occupy with regard to the other sex, without 
wishing to raise them from a condition so little 
better than that of the beasts of burden. But it is 
when they are in affliction, when sorrow and be- 
reavement call forth feelings of a deeper nature, 
then it is that a Christianas heart is stirred within 
him I 

It happened, on the first night of our settling in 
' Bab-el-Bahar, that "about ^midnight" there was a 
^^ great cry," for in a neighbouring house one was 
just dead. No one who heard that sudden cry 
breaking the deep stillness of night can ever forget 
its thrilling effect. Then came the piteous wailing 
that seemed to speak of sorrow without hope : the 
mother of the family was taken, and the children's 
shrieks and sobs mingled with the plaintive cry of 
"Oh, Aneeseh! Aneesehl" from the sisters or 


friends who vainly called on her who conld no 
longer answer them, — who had no longer a nanpe on 
earth I " Where is she?" was the terrible thought, 
too terrible to dwell on, yet impossible to chase 
away, that forced itself into the mind of the Christ- 
ian stranger who lay sadly listening to these sounds 
of woe, and remembering the deep joy that mingles 
with the anguish of those who know that their 
beloved ones are for ever with the Lord. All that 
could be answered to that awful question was in 
the words of inspiration, he that knew not his 
Lord's will, and did things worthy of stripes, shall 
be beaten with few stripes ! Next morning the 
mournful procession was seen leaving the door of a 
nearly opposite house, for in Egypt, as in all warm 
countries, funerals take place the day after decease 
at latest. There was the bier covered with a shawl, 
and the head-dress of the poor woman fixed upon 
it, as is usual, the hired mourning women mixed 
with the friends and family; nor was it possible to 
distinguish them in this class of life, all being clad 
in the same dark blue veils, and all wringing their 
hands with the same shrill, wailing cry ; but of this 
we were unhappily but too sure, that in all the sad 
group not one had any real comfort ; not one could 
call on the Almighty in the name of Him who wept 


at the grave of Lazarus, and ask for help and con- 
solation for His sake, who is the resurrection and 
the life; not one could say of the departed, "She 
is gone to Jesus 1" Alas, she never knew Him I It 
is not useless pain to think of such a scene as this, 
if it stimulates us to fresh zeal in the cause of 
Christ Through His mercy, who does not disdain 
to use the feeblest instrumentality, there were (when 
the day of our leaving Cairo came, nearly seven 
months after this) a few, at least, who had heard 
the name of the Redeemer, and who knew that 
there was a holy Book which told God's will to 
man; a few who had some ideas beyond the dust 
in which they had grovelled so long; and many 
who had learnt to love instead of hating Christians, 
and had eaten their bread and salt, and wept 
bitterly at their departure. 

It was, indeed, but a faint dawn-streak in that 
dark neighbourhood, and difficulties have mul- 
tiplied, and hindrances thickened, since that day, 
so that it remains " the day of small things " still, 
but surely in due time we shall see the light bright- 
ening and spreading ! 

On a burning "Khamseen" day in May did 
the first mothers' meeting in Cairo take place ; to 
be sure, the worst part of the heat was over, as we 


did not assemble till just before sunset, but an op- 
pressive hot wind was still blowing when the guests 
began to arrive. The school-room had been swept 
neatly, and decorated with tamarisk-boughs and a 
few flowers, and a cloth was spread in the centre 
upon the mat, on which stood two lai'ge bowls of 
water and a quantity of native bread. The native 
Egyptian bread is a sort of^p, pliant and moist, 
like a cold pancake ; it is always round, and of a 
dusky colour, and, in fact, resembles the flat stones 
often found in the bed of rivers, or in the desert. 
At a distance, a pile of bread might be taken for a 
pile of such stones, and makes one think of the beau- 
tiful expression of Scripture, *^ If a son shall ask 
bread of one of you that is a father, will he give 
him a stone ?" Will he give the mockery of a good 
thing instead of its reality ? How much more will 
our Heavenly Father give us, truly and literally, all 
that He hdiS promised io them that ask Him? 

Our poor little scholars would gladly have 
come to join this festival, but the room would not 
admit it, nor would their noisy presence have been 
at all desirable, but many stood peeping to see 
their mothers enter. About fourteen mothers, and 
aunts, and grandmothers, came to the meeting ; it 
could not be conducted as a " tea " for mothers at 


home Is, for the guests would not have touched the 
feast unless the hostess sat down and ate with 
them. Several were of the poorest class; a few 
were of a higher grade, as their dress showed ; all 
met on equal and friendly terms, though the con- 
trast was rather strange, certainly. One or two 
were clad in silk jackets, and covered with silver 
and coral, others in print trousers; but the majority 
wore the ordinary dark-blue cotton, trailing, yet 
scanty garments. A Copt, the mother of the 
pretty Hynehna, came in a dazzlingyon^'wiY-coloured 
yelehy or vest with long, narrow skirts, a head- 
kerchief of the same, and a quantity of gold coins 
round her thin, brown throat ; her bigoted, narrow 
mind peeped out in the critical way in which she 
scanned her poor neighbours in their coarse veils, 
though she saluted them civilly enough. 

Easnay the maker of fuel, who lived next door 
to us, was of the party, though not a " mother of 
any scholar." Shoh and Fatmeh were at once 
guests and waiters, the company not liking the 
attendance of our man-servant, of course, as they 
had all laid their face-veils aside. Our friend, 

Mrs. R , came to join the circle, and when all 

had taken their places on the mat round the cloth, 
the dishes were brought from the kitchen. They 


consisted of native messes^ as palatable to the 
good women there^ as tea^ cake^ and bread and 
butter are to us, gourds stuffed with rice and a 
little meat ; stewed tomatoes and egg-plants ; cab- 
bage-leaves filled with rice, and onions, and meat, 
and rolled up in balls ; and piles of rice boiled with 
semn, or clarified butter, of a rather strong flavour. 
This sounds more elaborate than our feasts do, but 
the expense was really very trifling, and the trouble 
and time of preparation only gave pleasure, for 
two of the younger women had volunteered to 
assist the cook, and had apparently spent a happy 
day in chopping, and peeling, and scooping, in 
spite of the great heat I Grace was said by our 
matron, probably a novel idea to the guests, but 
Eastern good-breeding always prevented any sur- 
prise from being shown at what they did not expect. 
The fingers were soon at work, but truth compels 
me to say that, on the whole, the manners at 
table, if such a term may be used when no table 
is present, were better than one has seen where 
knives and forks were used. Only one hand was 
dipped into the dish, and the stuffed gourds, &c., 
were easily taken without much soiling of the 
fingers. Each went to the door where the appa- 
ratus, called a ^^ tisht^^ and *^ ibrik^' used for pour- 


ing water on the hands, stood, and washed after 
eating: with people of higher condition, a servant 
hands this round, and pours water for the guests. 

The feast occupied altogether a much shorter 
time than feasts of the kind with us. The women 
then gathered in little knots round their Christian 
friends, and listened and talked, while coffee was 
served as a finish to the entertainment, and one 
which Eastern guests highly enjoy. 

The party was diminished by degrees, as some 
who had babies with them, or who lived a couple 
of streets off, which to their notions was *^ a dis- 
tance," were anxious to return early ; the others 

sat by our friend, Mrs. R , who read aloud a 

portion of Scripture, explaining and commenting 
in a manner suited to her audience. Some of the 
school children had slipped in, profiting by the 
dusk, and now were permitted to remain, when 
rendered visible by the lighting of candles. One 
crept round to my side, and, sitting at my feet, put 
her arms on my knees with an entreating, loving 
look, that was quite irresistible. 

The Turkish embroideress, Sitt Haanem, who 
was possessed of more education than any of the 
other mothers, as she knew how to read in her own 
language, though, perhaps, only imperfectly; en- 


gaged in an interesting discussion when the reading 
was finished^ and asked manj questions of Mrs. 

R y especially respecting the divinity of Christ 

The Coptic dame in the yellow dress did not quite 
like that Moslims should get any instruction^ and 
would, I fear, have regretted their conversion to 
Christianity, instead of rejoicing in it. She fre- 
quently interrupted the conversation by turning 
round and saying, in a loud whisper, ^^ She is a 
Moslim, the lady need not talk to her ; Moslims 
know nothing of all that; they do not believe in 

Sitt Haanem looked annoyed, but did not make 
any remark, except to beg her friend to continue 
what she was saying. At last the Copt, showing 
her arm, on which a cross, olive-wreath, and other 
symbols were tattooed in blue, said, with an air 
of intense pride and self- righteousness, ^* / am a 
pilgrim; I have been to Jerusalem, see there I" and 
her look added, unmistakeably, " That woman is not 
worthy to be talked to at the same time with a 
holy creature like mel'' 

" My dear woman, God looks at the heart, and 
not at the arm," I replied in a whisper, which answer^ 
if it did not satisfy her, silenced her for the time. 

Our little meeting concluded with a prayer, ia 


which our good matron fervently asked for the 
Divine blessing on those who had already left, and 
those who were present, as well as on the children. 
They listened reverently, and some murmured 
assents were heard during the prayer, as if the 
hearers joined as far as they could. 

The last batch of guests departed as the others 
had done, with many expressions of affection and 
regret at our departure, kissing our hands and 
cheeks again and again, and several shedding tears 
as they repeated, " The Lord preserve thee I The 
Lord bless thee I" And these were the women 
who half a year before looked on all Christians 
with dislike and suspicion, if not with actual 
aversion I 

Perhaps some will say, " Is this all ?" It is little, 
indeed; but we must remember that sowing and 
reaping do not follow immediately upon one an- 
other, except in very rare cases. Patient waiting 
for the early and latter rain of the Spirit is usually 
part of every missionary attempt, whether at home 
or abroad. How many years of waiting have 
many Christian parents endured before they could 
see in their own children any fruits of a long and 
careful training in the truth of God I And these 
poor Moslim women are steeped in ignorance and 


superstition^ from early childhood^ and snrroonded 
by bad influences on every side I 

Surely we must have great patience with them^ 
and thank God for even the smallest step towards 
better things. Even a vrish for something beyond 
the daily objects of life is a matter of thankfulness^ 
and this we have perceived in more cases than one. 

In a conversation with Fatmeh, the young 
mother who had lost three little boys, she observed 
(after listening to what I said about heaven), 
** Yes I it is better there than here, for here there 
is plenty of sorrow !" 

Oh, may God grant that, ere long, there may be 
many poor Moslims who have learned that there 
is a better land, where sorrow cannot enter I They 
soon learn, as we all do, that there is plenty of sor- 
row on earth ; but let us, who have been blessed 
with tlie knowledge of the Gospel of Christ, try to 
show them that it will, indeed, be better there than 



Bab-el-Bahafj Cairo, 
Novemher 28^A, 1862. 
My dear Friend, — You will be anxious to know if I 
have succeeded in reopening the Ragged School here, 
and collecting the scattered flock, and you shall have the 
details with as little delay as the inconvenient arrange- 
ment of these posts will allow. I came under somewhat 
discouraging circumstances, as you are aware. I came, 
knowing that the door I had opened with so much labour 
was closed, and that the children I had brought out of 
the lanes and streets were dispersed, and of course I 
could not be sure that they would return. However, 
the Lord has dealt most graciously with me, and has 
showed that the power is of Him who can work by 
many or by few, as He thinks fit. 

When our matron and superintendent had both left 
Cairo, the school was still kept up for some time by a 
truly Christian and benevolent Syrian lady, who, from 
no motive but a sincere wish to do good, went daily 
from her home to teach the little troop of girls, in the 


hottest time of the year. But her age and want of strong 
health made the occupation (to which she had never 
before been accustomed) too much for her, and at last 
she fairly sank under an attack of ferer ; and the school- 
house was closed. My dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. R., 
however, assured me on my arrival, that I should find 
the scholars ready to letum when once my coming was 
known. I went to see the house as soon as possible, 
though it was not in a fit state to inhabit at once, and 
looked around to try and discover some familiar face : 
presently two little girls came up and peeped half shyly 
at me out of the corners of their eyes, as if partially 
recognising an old friend, and yet not quite sure (a year 
and a half is a long time for children of seven and eight) } 
but I called them by name, and the voice at once broke 
the spell, and seizing my hand, they almost devoured 
it, exclaiming, " It is she 1 it is our lady come back, 
our teacher come back 1" Then they darted off into the 
lane to spread the news, and in a minute more a troop 
of ragged, dirty, merry creatures surrounded me with 
eager greetings, and demands of how soon they might 
come to school. 

A few days more were needed to put the house in 
tolerable order ; and meantime my friends and I con- 
sulted as to the possibility of my beginning the business 
without the aid of even a mistress ; for, as you know, 
we have been disappointed of a teacher, and not even a 
girl who could read could now be obtained to help me. 
The only matron (for a roataron in the house was neces- 
sary as a protection to me, as well as to take the sewing 
lesson for the children) did not know how to read^ not 


even her alphabet ;• but we agreed that a little was 
better than none ; and as I had already begun taking 
Arabic lessons of a good teacher, I might hope to im- 
prove rapidly, and keep ahead of my scholars, at least 
till more efficient aid could be had. So, on Monday, 
November 24th, I came from my friend's house to Bab- 
el-Bahar at nine o'clock, and in half-an-hour had no less 
than eighteen scholars. I wish some of those who take 
so kind an interest in this attempt among the poor 
Egyptian girls could have seen the hearty welcome 
with which I was received ; I was nearly pulled in 
pieces by their demonstrative affection, one seizing one 
hand, another the other, a third kissing the skirt of my 
dress, a fourth patting my. shoulders, and so on, all 
talking at once, as fast and as loud as they possibly 
could, so that I could not understand a tenth part; but 
it all meant the same thing. Then, when the tumult 
had subsided, I opened school by a short prayer for the 
Holy Spirit, and the Lord's Prayer, and then read a few 
verses of John's Gospel, which from previous study I 
could read pretty well, and then explained it as far as I 
was able in a very simple way. Then I divided the 
children, putting the young ones to learn " Alef, beh," 
with an older girl, and setting the others spelling lessons 
according to their powers. Only three or four older 
ones could read a little, and that not without spelling 
every word several times over. 

The language is so difficult and complicated that 
even natives do not learn to read as quickly as we do in 
our simple tongues. Many who say they can read are 
only able to read what they have been over a great 


manj times, and it is only a really good scholar who can 
take any book in any style, and read oflf glibly ; many 
a man who can read and write business letters well, 
finds much difficulty in getting through a chapter in 
the Bible till he has become used to it. My poor girls 
are far enough from reading fluently as yet. When I 
see how few can spell words of three syllables even, and 
how very soon they get tired and want to throw down 
the cards, it seems as if the actual reading were the 
summit of a high mountain, 4ind that we all stood at 
the foot. However, straw upon straw the nest was 
built ; so I went patiently from one to another, making 
them spell over and over again, and just breaking the 
tedium of the occupation by bringing out a Scripture 
print in the midst of the time, and trying to explain its 
meaning, and interest them as well as I could. By one 
o'clock I was well tired, as you may think, and glad to 
leave them to needlework with Um Bshara, the elderly 
woman who is to undertake that part of the business, 
but as she was new to the task I had to keep looking 
in every half-hour for the first day. On the second 
morning I had thirty girls, and since then we vary, but 
the average seems about twenty-six or twenty-seven at 

Thank God, my health is good, and my voice as strong 
as ever again, so for a time I shall get on very well ; and 
it is better for me to keep on the school alone, than get a 
teacher in a hurry and find she did not suit, or would 
not stay. Besides, my friend's mother came one morning 
to help me, and has promised kindly to give me, at least, 
A couple of hours every week ; if she were stronger she 


would gladly do much more. We are beginning to get 
a little more into order now. Of course, just at first 
they were very unruly, and each one expected to have 
the sole attention of their mistress to herself. " Oh, 
my teacher, heair my lesson 1" — " No, no, hear me Alef, 
beh 1" — " Oh, Sitte Mariam, Zanuba is striking me !" 
— -"Look I look 1 Hanrida has taken my card I" — 
" Oh, teacher, find me the right card ! this is not the 
one, I know." — "Look at Wardeh, Sitte Mariam!" 
One who is usually in mischief is Wardeh ; her name 
meaning rose, I call her the Prickly Kose. — " Oh my 
teacher," whimpers a small child, " you promised to do 
something for my bad finger." — ** Will not you give 
me a new pair of scissors ? " cries another ; and so on, 
till I seemed to need ten pairs of hands and as many 
eyes. We were interrupted, moreover, on the first day 
by several visitors, mothers and aunts of the girls, and 
poor neighbours, who came in with their hearty greeting 
of " Thou art welcome 1 The Lord be praised, thou art 
returned !" Amongst others of course came poor Shoh, 
who, I am sorry to say, is not in good health, though 
highly delighted with her baby of five months old, and 
very proud to show it to me. I had seen her for a mo- 
ment in the street some days before, and she had called 
loudly on me to acknowledge that her darling was very 
pretty, but it was then so disfigured by dirt that its 
little features were hardly discernible, and I had to take 
its charms on her word alone. But now it was regu- 
larly introduced, and Shoh had paid me the compliment 
of washing both the child and its clothes in my honour. 
It really was a sweet, pretty little thing, fairer than is 


usual with Egyptians, and with such a pleading expres- 
sion in its soft black eyes. But it seems so frail that 
I hardly expect she will rear it. Shoh is just like a 
child with a new doll (indeed, her baby is not much 
larger than some dolls I have seen), and it was amusing 
to hear her, pointing out its hands, and feet, and eyes, 
saying, " Look, Sitte, is not it kelwa, helwaf'* (sweet, 
sweet); and while I caressed and praised it, the grand- 
mother hoisted the poor little wee thing on high, as- 
suring it that I was " its own Sitt 1 " They are all as 
proud of this baby as if it were a boy, which is very 
uncommon here. Can it be that girls are less utterly 
despised in Bab-el -Bahar now that they have a school 
of their own, or is it only the charms of little Hasna's 
tiny face ? I cannot tell, but it is certainly made so 
much of that I hardly see how a hoy could be more 
kissed, and petted, and praised. 

I must not make my letter too long, or I would tell 
you of some more old acquaintances, but I will only 
mention the Moslim, Sitte Haanem. I was called to 
see a visitor this very morning, and was wondering who 
it could be, the eyes of the black, shrouded figure alone 
being visible, when she flung herself vehemently into 
my arms, arid almost strangled me, exclaiming, as she 
then threw back her face-veil, " Do not you know me, 
Hadawiyeh's mother ? " The fair widow does not look 
at all the worse in any way for the loss of her husband. 
I do not think she cared for him, and rather wonder she 
is not yet re-married ; but she is living alone with her 
child and slaves in a house at some distance from this, 
where she made me promise to come and see her. She 


seems to me to have stood still, and to be exactly where 
we left her ; but still, her affectionate feeling to a 
Christian is something. Her child is too nearly blind, 
poor thing, for it to be any use sending her to school 
even if she were not so far off ; nor can I undertake 
teaching the blind, being too fully occupied to attempt 
further work at present. We want more labourers in 
many ways here. I hope, however, in my next letter to 
give you a little account of the Arabic service at Mr. K.'s 
house, where he and the lay evangelist preach alternate 
Sundays, and you will see something is doing. But I 
thought the school must be my first subject. I hope 
our friends will help me by their prayers, and will recol- 
lect how weak an instrument I am, and how much grace 
and support is needed, especially in the present emer- 
gency. May He, in whose service we labour, whether 
at home or abroad, grant us His blessing for Christ's 
sake, and uphold us with His right hand. 

Ever yours, 


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