This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Writer:
Language:
Form:
Genre:
Published:
Collection:
Tags:
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

accomplish anything, there being now but fourteen million Poles to contend against these three powerful nations, still, as long as they have one about every thirty-five years, perhaps it is a wise precaution on the part of the young Tzar to begin with his kindness promptly, as it is about time for another one!

Another recent thing which the Poles attribute to the Tzar was the removal from the street corners, the shops, the railroad stations, and the clubs, of the placards forbidding the Polish language to be spoken in public.

Thus the Poles hope much from the young Tzar in the future, and believe that he would do more were he not held back by Russian public opinion. For example, the other day two Russians were overheard in the train to say: “For thirty years we have tried to force our religion on the Poles, our language on the Poles, and our customs on the Poles, but now here comes ‘The Little Colonel’ (the young Tzar), and in a moment he sweeps away all the progress we had made.”

To call him “The Little Colonel” is a term of great endearment, and the name arose from the fact that by some strange oversight he was never made a General by his father, but remained at the death of the late Tzar only a Colonel. When urged by his councillors to make himself General, as became a Tzar of all the Russias, he said: “No. The power which should have made me a General is no more. Now that I am at the head of the government I surely could not be so conceited as to promote myself.”

The misery among the poor in Poland is almost beyond belief, yet all charities for them must be conducted secretly, for the government stills forbids the establishment of kindergartens or free schools where Polish children would be taught in the Polish language. I have been questioned very closely about our charities in America, especially in Chicago, and I have given them all the working plans of the college settlements, the kindergartens, and the sewing-schools. The Poles are a wonderfully sympathetic and warm-hearted people, and are anxious to ameliorate the bitter poverty which exists here to an enormous extent. They sigh in vain for the freedom with which we may proceed, and regard Americans as seated in the very lap of a luxurious government because we are at liberty to give our money to any cause without being interfered with.

One of the noblest young women I have ever met is a Polish countess, wealthy, beautiful, and fascinating, who has turned her back upon society and upon the brilliant marriage her family had hoped for her, and has taken a friend who was at the head of a London training-school for nurses to live with her upon her estates, and these two have consecrated their lives to the service of the poor. They will educate Polish nurses to use in private charity. With no garb, no creed, no blare of trumpet, they have made themselves into “Little Sisters of the Poor.”

I could not fail to notice the difference in the young girls as soon as I crossed the Russian frontier and came into the land of the Slav. Here at once I found individuality. Polish girls are more like American girls. If you ask a young English girl what she thinks of Victor Hugo she tells you that her mamma does not allow her to read French novels. If you ask a French girl how she likes to live in Paris she tells you that she never went down town alone in her life.

But the Polish girls are different. They are individual. They all have a personality. When you have met one you never feel as if you had met all. In this respect they resemble American girls, but only in this respect, for whereas there is a type of Polish young girl–and a charming type she is–I never in my life saw what I considered a really typical American girl. You cannot typify the psychic charm of the young American girl. It is altogether beyond you.

These Polish girls who have titles are as simple and unaffected as possible. I had no difficulty in calling their mothers Countess and Princess, etc., but I tripped once or twice with the young girls, whereat they begged me in the sweetest way to call them by their first names without any prefix. They were charming. They taught us the Polish mazurka–a dance which has more go to it than any dance I ever saw. It requires the Auditorium ball-room to dance it in, and enough breath to play the trombone in an orchestra. The officers dance with their spurs on, which jingle and click in an exciting manner, and to my surprise never seem to catch in the women’s gowns.

The home life of the Poles is very beautiful; and, in particular, the deference paid to the father and mother strikes my American sensibilities forcibly. I never tire of watching the entrance into the salon of the married sons of the Countess when each comes to pay his daily visit to his mother. They are all four tall, impressive, and almost majestic, with a curious hawk-like quality in their glance, which may be an inheritance from their warrior forefathers. Count Antoine comes in just before going home to dine, while we are all assembled and dressed for dinner. He flings the door open, and makes his military bow to the room, then making straight for his mother’s chair, he kneels at her feet, kisses her hand and then her brow, and sometimes again her hand. Then he passes the others, and kisses his sister on the cheek, and after thus saluting all the members of his family, he turns to us, the guests, and speaks to us.

The Poles are the most individual and interesting people I have yet encountered. The men in particular are fascinating, and a man who is truly fascinating in the highest sense of the word; one whose character is worth study, and whose friendship would repay cultivating as sincerely as many of the Poles I know, is a boon to thank God for.

Before I came to Poland it always surprised me to realize that so many men and women of world-wide genius came from so small a nation. But now that I have had the opportunity of knowing them intimately and of studying their characteristics, both nationally and individually, I see why.

Poland is the home of genius by right. Her people, even if they never write or sing or act or play, have all the elements in their character which go to make up that complex commodity known as genius, whether it ever becomes articulate or not. You feel that they could all do things if they tried. They are a sympathetic, interesting, interested, and, above all, a magnetic people. This forms the top soil for a nation which has put forth so much of wonder and sweetness to enrich the world, but the reason which lies deep down at the root of the matter for the _soul_ which thrills through all this melody of song and story is in the sorrowful and tragic history of this nation.

The Poles are a race of burning patriots. To-day they are as keen over national sufferings and national wrongs as on that unfortunate clay when they went into a fiercely unwilling and resentful captivity. Their pride, their courage, their bitterness of spirit, their longing for revenge now no longer find an outlet on the battlefield. Yet it smoulders continually in their innermost being. You must crush the heart, you must subdue a people, you must be no stranger to anguish and loss if you would discover the singer and the song. And so Poland’s fierce and unrelenting patriotism has placed the divine spark of a genius which thrills a world in souls whose sweetest song is a cry wrung from a patriot’s heart.

VI

ST. PETERSBURG

It behooves one to be good in Russia, for no matter how excellent your reputation at home, no matter how long you have been a member in good and regular standing of the most orthodox church, no matter how innocent your heart may be of anarchy, nihilism, or murder, you travel, you rest, you eat, sleep, wake, or dream, tracked by the Russian police.

They snatch your passport the moment you arrive at a hotel, and register you, and if you change your hotel every day, every day your passport is taken, and you are requested to fill out a blank with your name, age, religion, nationality, and the name and hotel of the town where you were last.

When we entered our Russian hotel–when we had entirely entered, I mean, for we passed through six or eight swinging doors with moujiks to open and shut each one, and bow and scrape at our feet–we found ourselves in a stiflingly hot corridor, where the odor was a combination of smoke and people whose furs needed airing.

It would be an excellent idea if Americans who live in cold climates dressed as sensibly as Russians do. They keep their houses about as warm as we keep ours, but they wear thin clothing indoors and put on their enormous furs for the street. On entering any house, church, shop, or theatre, the chuba and overshoes are removed, and although they spend half their lives putting them on and taking them off, yet the other half is comfortable.

The women seem to have no pride about the appearance of their feet, for now the doctors are ordering them to wear the common gray felt boot of the peasants, with the top of it reaching to the knee. It is without doubt the most hideous and unshapely object the mind can conceive, being all made of one piece and without any regard to the shape of the foot.

St. Petersburg can hardly be called a typical Russian city. It is too near other countries, but to us, before we had seen Moscow and Kiev, it was Russia itself. We arrived one bitterly cold day, and went first to the hotel to which we had been recommended by our friends.

I shall never forget the wave of longing for home and country which settled down upon me as we saw our rooms in this hotel. It must have been built in Peter the Great’s time. No electric lights; not even lamps. Candles! Now, if there is one thing more than another which makes me frantic with homesickness, it is the use of candles. I would rather be in London on Sunday than to dress by the light of candles.

Even an excellent luncheon did not raise my spirits. Our rooms were as dark and gloomy and silent as a mausoleum. Indeed, many a mausoleum I have seen has been much more cheerful. It was at the time of year also when we had but three hours of daylight–from eleven until two. Our salon was furnished in a dreary drab, with a gigantic green stove in the corner which reached to the ceiling. Then we entered what looked like a long, narrow corridor, down which we blindly felt our way, and at the extreme end of which were hung dark red plush curtains, as if before a shrine. We pulled aside these trappings of gloom, and there were two iron cots, not over a foot and a half wide, about the shape and feeling of an ironing-board, covered with what appeared to be gray army blankets, I looked to see “U.S.” stamped on them. I have seen them in museums at home.

I gazed at my companion in perfect dismay. “I shall not present a single letter of introduction,” I wailed. “I’m going to Moscow to-morrow.”

Instead of going to Moscow in the morning, we went out and decided to present just the one letter to our ambassador. He was at the Hotel d’Europe, and we went there. Behold! electric lights everywhere. Heaps of Americans. And the entire Legation there. My companion and I simply looked at each other, and our whole future grew brighter. We would not go to Moscow, but we would move at once. We would introduce electricity into our sombre lives, and look forward with hope into the great unknown. We rushed around and presented all the rest of our letters, and went back to spend a wretched evening with eight candles and a smoky lamp.

The next day we called for our bill and prepared to move. To my disgust, I found an item of two rubles for the use of that lamp. I had serious thoughts of opening up communication with the Standard Oil Company by cable. But we were so delighted with our new accommodations in prospect that we left the hotel in a state of exhilaration that nothing could dampen.

To our great disappointment we found a number of Americans leaving St. Petersburg for Moscow because the Hermitage was closed. Now, the Hermitage and the ceremony of the Blessing of the Waters of the Neva were what I most wished to see, but we were informed at the Legation that we could have neither wish gratified. However, my spirit was undaunted. It was only the American officials who had pronounced it impossible. My lucky star had gone with me so far, and had opened so many unaccustomed doors, that I did not despair. I said I would see what our letters of introduction brought forth.

We did not have to wait long. No sooner had we presented our letters than people came to see us, and placed themselves at our disposal for days and even weeks at a time. Their kindness and hospitality were too charming for mere words to express.

Although the Winter Palace was closed to visitors, preparatory to the arrival on the next day of the Tzar and Tzarina, it was opened for us through the influence of the daughter of the Commodore of the late Tzar’s private yacht, Mademoiselle de Falk, who took us through it. It was simply superb, and was, of course, in perfect readiness for the arrival of the imperial family, with all the gorgeous crimson velvet carpets spread, and the plants and flowers arranged in the Winter Garden.

Then, through this same influential friend, the Hermitage–the second finest and the very richest museum in all Europe–was opened for us, and–well, I kept my head going through the show palaces in London, and Paris, and Berlin, and Dresden, and Potsdam, but I lost it completely in the Hermitage. Then and there I absolutely went crazy. A whole guide-book devoted simply to the Hermitage could give no sort of idea of the barbaric splendor of its belongings. Its riches are beyond belief. Even the presents given by the Emir of Bokhara to the Tzar are splendid enough to dazzle one like a realization of the Arabian Nights. But to see the most valuable of all, which are kept in the Emperor’s private vaults, is to be reduced to a state of bewilderment bordering on idiocy.

It is astonishing enough, to one who has bought even one Russian belt set with turquoise enamel, to think of all the trappings of a horse–bit, bridle, saddle-girth, saddlecloth, and all, made of cloth of gold and set in solid turquoise enamel; with the sword hilt, scabbard, belts, pistol handle and holster made of the same. Well, these are there by the dozen. Then you come to the private jewels, and you see all these same accoutrements made of precious stones–one of solid diamonds; another of diamonds, emeralds, topazes, and rubies. And the size of these stones! Why, you never would believe me if I should tell you how large they are. Many of them are uncut and badly set, from an English stand-point. But in quantity and size–well, I was glad to get back to my three-ruble-a-day room and to look at my one trunk, and to realize that my own humble life would go on just the same, and my letter of credit would not last any longer for all the splendors which exist for the Tzar of all the Russias.

The churches in St. Petersburg are so magnificent that they, too, go to your head. We did nothing but go to mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, for although we spent our Christmas in Berlin, we arrived in St. Petersburg in time for the Russian Christmas, which comes twelve days later than ours. St. Isaac’s, the Kazan, and Sts. Peter and Paul dazed me. The icons or images of the Virgin are set with diamonds and emeralds worth a king’s ransom. They are only under glass, which is kept murky from the kisses which the people press upon the hands and feet.

The interiors of the cathedrals, with their hundreds of silver _couronnes_, and battle-flags, and trophies of conquests, look like great bazaars. Every column is covered clear to the dome. The tombs of the Tzars are always surrounded by people, and candles burn the year round. Upon the tomb of Alexander II., under glass, is the exquisite laurel wreath placed there by President Faure. It is of gold, and was made by Falize, one of the most famous carvers of gold in Europe.

The famous mass held on Christmas Eve in the cathedral of St. Isaac was one of the most beautiful services I ever attended. In the first place, St. Isaac’s is the richest church in all Russia. It has, too, the most wonderful choir, for the Tzar loves music, and wherever in all his Empire a beautiful voice is found, the boy is brought to St. Petersburg and educated by the State to enter the Emperor’s choir. When we entered the church the service had been in progress for five hours. That immense church was packed to suffocation. In the Greek church every one stands, no matter how long the service. In fact, you cannot sit down unless you sit on the floor, for there are no seats.

By degrees we worked our way towards the space reserved for the Diplomatic Corps, where we were invited to enter. Our wraps were taken and chairs were given to us. We found ourselves on the platform with the priest, just back of the choir. What heavenly voices! What wonderful voices! The bass holds on to the last note, and the rumble and echo of it rolls through those vaulted domes like the tones of an organ. The long-haired priest, too, had a wonderful resonant voice for intoning. He passed directly by us in his gorgeous cloth of gold vestments, as he went out.

The instant he had finished, the little choir boys began to pinch each other and thrust their tapers in each other’s faces, and behaved quite like ordinary boys. The great crowd scattered and huge ladders were brought in to put out the hundreds of candles in the enormous chandeliers. Religion was over, and the world began again.

The other art which is maintained at the government expense is the ballet. We went several times, and it was very gorgeous. It is all pantomime–not a word is spoken–but so well done that one does not tire of it.

Every one sympathized so with us because we could not see the ceremony of the Blessing of the Waters of the Neva, and our ambassador apologized for not being able to arrange it, and we said, “Not at all,” and “Pray, do not mention it,” at the same time secretly hoping that our Russian friends, who were putting forth strenuous efforts on our behalf, would be able to manage it.

On the morning of the 18th of January a note came from a Russian officer who was on duty at the Winter Palace, saying that Baron Elsner, the Secretary of the Prefect of Police, would call for us with his carriage at ten o’clock, and we would be conducted to the private space reserved just in front of the Winter Palace, where the best view of everything could be obtained. My companion and I fell into each other’s arms in wild delight, for it had been most difficult to manage, and we had not been sure until that very moment.

Now, the person of the Tzar is so sacred that it is forbidden by law even to represent him on the stage, and as to photographing him–a Russian faints at the mere thought. Nevertheless, we wished very much to photograph this pageant, so we determined, if possible, to take our camera. Everything else that we wanted had been done for us ever since we started, and our faith was strong that we would get this. At first the stout heart of Baron Elsner quailed at our suggestion. Then he said to take the camera with us, which we did with joy. His card parted the crowd right and left, and our carriage drove through long lines of soldiers, and between throngs of people held in check by mounted police, and by rows of infantry, who locked arms and made of themselves a living wall, against which the crowd surged.

To our delight we found our places were not twenty feet from the entrance to the Winter Palace. We noticed Baron Elsner speaking to several officials, and we heard the word “Americanski,” which had so often opened hearts and doors to us, for Russia honestly likes America, and presently the Baron said, in a low tone, “When the Emperor passes out you may step down here; these soldiers will surround you, and you may photograph him.”

I could scarcely believe my ears. I was so excited that I nearly dropped the camera.

The procession moves only about one hundred feet–a crimson carpet being laid from the entrance of the Winter Palace, across the street, and up into a pavilion which is built out over the Neva.

First came the metropolitans and the priests; then the Emperor’s celebrated choir of about fifty voices; then a detachment of picked officers bearing the most important battle-flags from the time of Peter the Great, which showed the marks of sharp conflict; then the Emperor’s suite, and then–the Emperor himself. They all marched with bared heads, even the soldiers.

My companion had the opera-glasses, I had the camera. “Tell me when,” I gasped. They passed before me in a sort of haze. I heard the band in the Winter Palace and the singing of the choir. I heard the splash of the cross which the Archbishop plunged into the opening that had been cut in the ice. I heard the priests intone, and the booming of the guns firing the imperial salute. I saw that the wind was blowing the candles out. Then came a breathless pause, and then she said, “Now!” A little click. It was done; I had photographed Nicholas II., the Tzar of all the Russias!

VII

RUSSIA

Yesterday we had our first Russian experience in the shape of a troika ride. Russians, as a rule, do not troika except at night. In fact, from my experience, they reverse the established order of things and turn night into day.

A troika is a superb affair. It makes the tiny sledges which take the place of cabs, and are used for all ordinary purposes, look even more like toys than usual. But the sledges are great fun, and so cheap that it is an extravagance to walk. A course costs only twenty kopecks–ten cents. The sledges are set so low that you can reach out and touch the snow with your hand, and they are so small that the horse is in your lap and the coachman in your pocket. He simply turns in his seat to hook the fur robe to the back of your seat–only it has no back. If you fall, you fall clear to the ground.

The horse is far, far above you in your humble position, and there is so little room that two people can with difficulty stow themselves in the narrow seat. If a brother and sister or a husband and wife drive together, the man, in sheer self-defence, is obliged to put his arm around the woman, no matter how distasteful it may be. Not that she would ever be conscious of whether he did it or not, for the amount of clothes one is obliged to wear in Russia destroys any sense of touch.

The idvosjik, or coachman, is so bulky from this same reason that you cannot see over him. You are obliged to crane your neck to one side. His head is covered with a Tartar cap. He wears his hair down to his collar, and then chopped off in a straight line. His pelisse is of a bluish gray, fits tightly to the waist, and comes to the feet. But the skirt of it is gathered on back and front, giving him an irresistibly comical pannier effect, like a Dolly Varden polonaise. The Russian idvosjik guides his horse curiously. He coaxes it forward by calling it all sorts of pet names–“doushka,” darling, etc. Then he beats it with a toy whip, which must feel like a fly on its woolly coat, for all the little fat pony does is to kick up its heels and fly along like the wind, missing the other sledges by a hair’s-breadth. It is ghostly to see the way they glide along without a sound, for the sledges wear no bells.

One may drive with perfect safety at a breakneck pace, for they all drive down on one side of the street and up on the other. Nor will an idvosjik hesitate to use his whip about the head and face of another idvosjik who dares to turn without crossing the street.

He stops his horse with a guttural trill, as if one should say “Tr-r-r-r-r” in the back of the throat. It sounds like a gargle.

The horses are sharp-shod, but in a way quite different from ours. The spikes on their shoes are an inch long, and dig into the ice with perfect security, but it makes the horses look as if they wore French heels. Even over ice like sheer glass they go at a gallop and never slip. It is wonderful, and the exhilaration of it is like driving through an air charged with champagne, like the wine-caves of Rintz.

Our troika was like a chariot in comparison with these sledges. It was gorgeously upholstered in red velvet, and held six–three on each seat. The robes also were red velvet, bordered and lined with black bear fur. There were three horses driven abreast. The middle horse was much larger than the other two, and wore a high white wooden collar, which stood up from the rest of the harness, and was hung with bells and painted with red flowers and birds.

To my delight the horses were wild, and stood on their hind legs and bit each other, and backed us off the road, and otherwise acted like Tartar horses in books. It seemed almost too good to be true. It was like driving through the Black Forest and seeing the gnomes and the fairies one has read about. I told my friends very humbly that I had never done anything in my life to deserve the good fortune of having those beautiful horses act in such a satisfactory and historical manner. We had to get out twice and let the idvosjik calm them down. But even when ploughing my way out of snow up to my knees I breathed an ecstatic sigh of gratitude and joy. I could not understand the men’s annoyance. It was too ideal to complain about.

We drove out to the Island for luncheon, and on the way we stopped and coasted in a curious Russian sledge from the top of a high place, something like our toboggan-slides, only this sledge was guided from behind by a peasant on skates.

A Russian meal always begins with a side-table of _hors d’oeuvres_, called “zakouska.” That may not be spelled right, but no Russian would correct me, because the language is phonetic, and they spell the same word in many different ways. Their alphabet has thirty-eight letters in it, besides the little marks to tell you whether to make a letter hard or soft.

Even proper names take on curious oddities of spelling, and a husband and wife or two brothers will spell their name differently when using the Latin letters. If you complain about it, and ask which is correct, they make that famous Russian reply which Bismarck once had engraved in his ring, and which he believed brought him such good luck, “Neechy voe,” “It is nothing,” or “Never mind.” You can spell with your eyes shut in Russian, and you simply cannot make a mistake, for the Russians spell with all the abandonment of French dancing.

This zakouska is so delicious and so varied and so tempting that one not accustomed to it eats too much without realizing. At a dinner an American looked at my loaded plate and said, with delicious impertinence, “Confidentially, I don’t mind telling you that dinner is _coming_.”

As we came back, the full delight of troika-riding came over us, for driving in the country we could not tell how fast we were going. But in town, whizzing past other carriages, hearing the shouts of the idvosjik, “Troika!” and seeing the people scatter and the sledges turn out (for a troika has the right of way), we realized at what a pace we were going. We dashed across the frozen Neva, with its tramway built right on the ice; past the Winter Palace, along the quai, where all the embassies are, into the Grand Morskaia, and from there into the Nevski, with the snow flying and our bells ringing, and the middle horse trotting and the outer horses galloping, sending clouds of steam from their heaving flanks and palpitating nostrils, and the biting air making our blood tingle, and the reiterated shout of the idvosjik, “Troika! troika!” taking our breath away.

We had one more excitement before we reached home, which was seeing a Russian fire-engine. We passed it in a run. The engine was on one sledge, and following it were five other sledges carrying hogsheads of water.

I am glad we came to Russia in winter, for by so doing we have met the Russian people, the most fascinating that any country can boast, with the charm of the French, the courage of the English, the sentiment of the Germans, the sincerity and hospitality of the Americans. Their courtesy to each other is a never-ending pleasure to me. Poles and Russians treat their women more nearly the way our American men treat us than any nation we have encountered so far. They are the most marvellous linguists in the world. We have met no one in Russia who speaks fewer than three languages, and we have met several who speak twelve. They are not arrogant even concerning their military strength. They are quite modest about their learning and their not inconsiderable literary and artistic achievements, and they hold themselves, both nationally and individually, in the plastic state where they are willing to learn from any nation or any master who can teach what they wish to know. There is a marvellous future for Russia, for their riches and resources are as vast and inestimable as their possessions. They themselves do not realize how mighty they are.

Here is France grovelling at their feet, spending millions of francs to entertain the Tzar–France, a nation which must see a prospect of double her money returned before she parts with a sou; with the cathedrals filled with _couronnes_ sent by the French press; with no compliment to Russia too fulsome for French gallantry to invent finding space in the foremost French newspapers; hoping, praying, beseeching the help of Russia, when Germany makes up her mind to gobble France, yet dealing Russian achievement a backhanded slap by hinting what a compliment it is for a cultivated, accomplished, over-cultured race like the French to beg the assistance of a barbarous country like Russia.

I believe that Russia is the only country in the world which feels nationally friendly and individually interested in America. I used to think France was, and I held Lafayette firmly and proudly in my memory to prove it. But I was promptly undeceived as to their individual interest, and when I still clung to Lafayette as a proof of the former I was laughed to scorn and told that France as a nation had nothing to do with that; that Lafayette went to America as a soldier of fortune. He would just as soon have gone to Madagascar or Timbuctoo, but America was accommodating enough to have a war on just in time to serve his ambition. If that is true, I wish they had not told me. I would like to come home with a few ideals left–if they will permit me.

When I was in Berlin I asked our ambassador, Mr. White, what Germany thought of America. He replied, “Just what Thackeray thought of Tupper. When some one asked Thackeray what he thought of Tupper, he replied, ‘I don’t think of him at all.'”

But in Russia I have a sore throat all the time from answering questions about America. I think I am not exaggerating when I say I have answered a million in a single evening. My companion at first was disgusted with my wearing myself out in such a manner, but I said, “I am so grateful to them for _caring_, after the indifference of all these other self-sufficient countries, that I am willing to sacrifice myself at it if necessary.”

We never realized how little we knew about America until we discovered the Russian capacity for asking unexpected questions. I bought an American history in Russia, and sat up nights trying to remember what my father had tried to instil into my sieve-like brain. After a week of witnessing my feverish enthusiasm, even my companion’s dormant national pride was roused. She, too, was ashamed to say, “I don’t know,” when they asked us these terrible questions. When we get into the clutches of a party of women we trust to luck that they cannot remember our statistics long enough to tell their husbands and brothers (I have a horror of men’s accuracy in figures), and we calmly guess at the answers when our exact knowledge gives out.

One night they attacked my companion on the school question. Now, she does not know one solitary thing about the public-school system, but, to my utter amazement, I heard her giving the number of children between the ages of eight and ten who were in the public schools in the State of Illinois, and then running them off by counties. I was afraid she would soon begin to call the roll of their names from memory, so I rescued her and took her home. I suppose we must have an air of intelligence which successfully masks our colossal ignorance of occult facts and defunct dates, because they rely on us to inform them off-hand concerning everything social, political, historical, sacred and profane, spirituous and spiritual, from the protoplasm of the cliff-dwellers to the details of the Dingley bill, not skipping accurate information on the process of whiskey-making in Kentucky, a crocodile-hunt in Florida, suffrage in Wyoming, a lynching-bee in Texas, polygamy in Utah, prune-drying in California, divorces in Dakota, gold-mining in Colorado, cotton-spinning in Georgia, tobacco-raising in Alabama, marble-quarrying in Tennessee, the number of Quakers in Philadelphia, one’s sensations while being scalped by Sioux, how marriages are arranged, what a man says when he proposes, the details of a camp-meeting, a description of a negro baptism, and the main arguments on the silver question.

They get some curious ideas in their heads concerning us, but they are so amazingly well informed about America that their specific misinformation never irritated me. The small use they have for their English sometimes accounts for the queer things they say.

The official costume for men who have no particular uniform is regulation evening dress, which they are obliged to wear all day. They become so tired of it that this is the reason, they tell me, why so many men, even in smart society, go to the opera or even dinners in frock-coats. One one occasion a most intelligent man said to me, “I am told that in America the ladies always wear decollete costumes at dinners, and the men are always in night-dress.”

For one hysterical moment my mind’s eye pictured a dinner-table on Prairie Avenue with alternately a low-necked gown and a pair of pajamas, and I choked. Then I happened to think that he meant “evening dress,” and I recovered sufficiently to explain.

The Tzarina has made English the Court language, and since her coronation no state balls take place on Sunday.

Russian hospitality is delightful. We could remain a year in Russia and not exhaust our invitations to visit at their country-houses. Russia must be beautiful in summer, but if you wish to go into society, to know the best of the people, to see their sweet home life, and to understand how they live and enjoy themselves, you must go in the winter. I cannot think what any one would find of national life in summer in Russia, for everybody has a country-house and everybody goes to it and leaves the city to tourists.

Russia, in spite of her vast riches, has not arrived at supercivilization, where there is corruption in the very atmosphere. She is an undeveloped and a young country, and while the Tzar is wise and kind and beneficent, and an excellent Tzar as Tzars go, still Russians, even the best and most enlightened of them, are slaves. I have met a number of the gentlest and cleverest men who had been exiled to Siberia, and pardoned. Their picture-galleries bear witness to this underlying sadness of knowing that in spite of everything they are not _free_. All their actions are watched, their every word listened to, spies are everywhere, the police are omnipresent, and over all their gayety and vivacity and mirth and spontaneity there is the constant fear of the awful hand in whose complete power they are. His clemency, his fatherhood to his people, his tremendous responsibility for their welfare are all appreciated, but the thought is in every mind, “When will this kindness fail? Upon whose head will the lightning descend next?”

Title and gentle birth and the long and faithful service of one’s ancestors to the Tzars are of small avail if the evidence should go against one in Russia. I have heard princes say less than I have said here, but say it in whispers and with furtive looks at the nearest man or woman. I have seen their starts of surprise at the frank impudence of our daring to criticise our administration in their midst, and I felt as if I were in danger of being bombarded from the back.

In Russia you may spell as you please, but you must have a care how you criticise the government. In America you may criticise the government as you will, but you must have a care how you spell.

VIII

MOSCOW

I thought St. Petersburg interesting, but it is modern compared to Moscow. Everything is so strange and curious here. The churches, the chimes, the palace, the coronation chapel, and the street scenes are enough to drive one mad with interest.

Moscow is said to have sixteen hundred churches, and I really think we did not skip one. They are almost as magnificent as those in St. Petersburg, and they impressed–overpowered us, in fact, with the same unspeakable riches of the Greek Church.

The name of our hotel was so curious that I cannot forbear repeating it, “The Slavansky Bazaar,” and they call their smartest restaurant “The Hermitage.” I felt as if I could be sold at auction in “The Bazaar,” and as if I ought to fast and pray in “The Hermitage.”

“The Slavansky Bazaar” was one of the dirtiest hotels it ever was my lot to see. The Russians of the middle class–to say nothing of the peasants, who are simply unspeakable–are not a clean set, so one cannot blame a hotel for not living above the demands of its _clientele_. There were some antique specimens of cobwebs in our rooms, which made restful corner ornaments with dignified festoons, which swung slowly to and fro with such fascinating solemnity that I could not leave off looking at them. The hotel is built up hill and down dale, and each corridor smells more musty than the other. It has a curious arrangement for supplying water in the rooms which I never can recall with any degree of pleasure. One evening after I had dressed I went to the wash-stand and discovered that there was no water. I was madly ringing for the chambermaid when my companion called from her room, and said, “Put your foot on that brass thing. There is plenty of water.”

I looked down, and near the floor was a brass pedal, like that of a piano. Sure enough, there was a reservoir above and a faucet with the head of a dragon on it peering up into my face, which I never had noticed before. Now, the pedal of my piano works hard, so I bent all my strength to this one, and lo! from that impudent dragon’s mouth I got a mighty stream of water straight in my unconscious face, and enough to put out a fire. I fell back with a shriek of astonishment and indignation, and my companion laughed–nay, she roared. She laughs until she cries even now every time she thinks of it, although I had to change my gown. How was _I_ going to know that I was leaning over a waterspout, I should like to know!

In this same hotel when I asked for a blotter they brought me a box of sand. I tried to use it, but my hand was not very steady, and none of it went on the letter. Some got in my shoe, however.

But our environments were more than compensated for by the exceeding kindness that we received from the most delightful people that it ever was my good fortune to meet, and their attentions to us were so charming that we shall remember them as long as we live.

Americans, even though we are as hospitable as any nation on earth, might well take a lesson from the Russians in regard to the respect they pay to a letter of introduction. The English send word when you can be received, and you pay each other frosty formal calls, and then are asked to five-o’clock tea or some other wildly exciting function of similar importance. The French are great sticklers for etiquette, but they are more spontaneous, and you are asked to dine at once. After that it is your own fault if you are not asked again. But in Russia it is different. I think that the men must have accompanied my messenger home, and the women to whom I presented letters early in the afternoon were actually waiting for me when I returned from presenting the last ones. In Moscow they came and waited hours for my return. I was mortified that there were not four of me to respond to all the beauties of their friendship, for hospitality in Russia includes even that.

They placed themselves, their carriages, their servants, at our disposal for whatever we had to do–sight-seeing, shopping, or idling. Mademoiselle Yermoloff, lady-in-waiting to the two empresses, simply took us upon her hands to show us Russian society life. She came with her sledge in the morning, and kept us with her all day long, taking us to see the most interesting people and places in Moscow. She showed us the coronation-robes, the embroideries upon which were from her own beautiful designs. The Empress presented her with an emerald and diamond brooch in recognition of this important service, for undoubtedly the coronation-robe of the present Tzarina is much handsomer and in better taste than any of the others. The designs are so artistically sketched that they all have a special significance.

Here we visited the charming Princess Golitzine, a most beautiful and accomplished woman. Her house, we were told, De Lesseps, the father of the Suez De Lesseps, used as his headquarters during the French occupation of Moscow.

Mademoiselle Yermoloff’s sledge was a very beautiful one, but it was quite as low-set as all the others, and her footman stood behind. As there was no back to the seat of her sledge, and her horses were rather fiery and unmanageable, every time they halted without warning this solemn flunky pitched forward into our backs, a performance which would have upset the dignity of an English footman, but which did not seem to disturb him in the least.

Mademoiselle Yermoloff took us to see Madame Chabelskoi, whose contributions to the World’s Fair were of so much value. I never saw a private collection of anything so rich, so varied, and of such historical value as her collection of all the provincial costumes of the peasants of Finland and Big and Little Russia. In addition to these she has the fete-day toilets as well. The Kokoshniks are all embroidered in seed-pearls and gold ornaments, and if she were not a fabulously rich woman she could never have got all these, for each one is authentic and has actually been worn. They are not copies.

But Moscow seems to take a peculiar national pride in preserving the historical monuments of her country. There is a museum there, with a complete set of all these costumes on wax figures, and they range all the way from the grotesque to the lovely.

Madame Chabelskoi is now doing a very pretty as well as a valuable and historical work. She has two accomplished daughters, and these young girls spend all their time in selecting peasant women with typical features, dressing them in these costumes, photographing them, and then coloring these photographs in water-colors. They are making ten copies of each, to make ten magnificent albums, which are to be presented to the ten greatest museums in the world. The Hermitage in St. Petersburg is to have one, the British Museum another, and so on. Only one was to go to America, and to my metropolitan dismay I found that it was _not_ to go to Chicago. I shall not say where it was intended to go; I shall only say that with characteristic modesty I asked, in my most timid voice, why she did not present it to a museum in the city which she had already benefited so royally with her generosity, and which already held her name in affectionate veneration. It seemed to strike her for the first time that Chicago _was_ the proper city in which to place that album, so she promised it to us! I thanked her with sincere gratitude, and retired from the field with a modest flush of victory on my brow. I cannot forbear a wicked chuckle, however, when I think of that other museum!

We dined many times at “The Hermitage,” which is one of the smartest restaurants in Europe. The costumes of the waiters were too extraordinary not to deserve a passing mention. They consisted of a white cotton garment belted at the waist, with no collar, and a pair of flapping white trousers. They are always scrupulously clean–which is a wonder for Russian peasants–for they are made to change their clothes twice a day. They have a magnificent orchestrion instead of an orchestra here, and I could scarcely eat those beautiful dinners for listening to the music. We became so well acquainted with the repertoire that our friends, knowing our taste, ordered the music to match the courses. So instead of sherry with the soup, they ordered the intermezzo from “Cavalleria Rusticana.” With the fish we had the overture to “William Tell.” With the _entrecote_ we had a pot-pourri from “Faust.” With the fowl we had “Demon and Tamar,” the Russian opera. With the rest we began on Wagner and worked up to that thrilling “Tannhaeuser” overture, until I was ready to go home a nervous wreck from German music, as I always am.

A very interesting incident occurred while we were in Moscow. The Tzar decorated a non-commissioned officer for an act of bravery which well deserved it. He was in charge of the powder-magazines just outside of Moscow, and from the view I had of them I should say that the gunpowder is stored in pits in the ground.

Something caught fire right on top of one of these pits, and this young officer saw it. He had no time to send for water, and if he delayed, at any moment the whole magazine might explode; one pit would communicate with another, and perhaps the whole city would be endangered; so without a second’s hesitation he and his men sprang into the fire and literally trod it out with their feet, running the risk of an explosion by concussion, as well as by a spark of fire. It was a superb act of courage, and the Tzar decorated this young sergeant with the order of Vladimir–one of the rarest decorations in all Russia. I am told that not over six living men possess it to-day. It was a beautiful thing for the Tzar thus to recognize this heroic deed.

When we left Moscow we were having our first real taste of Russian winter, for, strange to say, although so much farther south, the climate is much more severe than that of St. Petersburg.

My companion complained bitterly that we were not seeing anything of Russia because we came down from St. Petersburg at night, so we abandoned the courier train, and took the slow day-train for Kiev, the old capital of Russia, that she might see more of the country.

But now I come to my reward and her chagrin. Between Moscow and Kiev we were snowed in for sixteen hours. It was between stations, the food gave out–I mean it gave out because we did not have any to start with–the train became bitterly cold, and we came near freezing and starving to death. That made our Russian experiences quite complete. We had foolishly started without even fruit, and there was nothing to be had on board the train except the tea which the conductors make in a samovar and serve to you at the slightest provocation. But even the tea was exhausted at last, and then the fire gave out, because all the wood had been used up.

There we were, penned up, wrapped in our seal-skins and steamer-rugs and with nubias over our heads, so cold that our teeth chattered, and so hungry we could have eaten anything. The conductor came and spoke to us several times, but whether he was inviting us to lunch or quoting Scripture we could never tell. There was no one on the train who spoke English or French, and nobody else in our car to speak anything at all–owing to our having come on this particular train, in order for my companion to “see Russia.” I am delighted to record the fact that not only the outside but the inside windows were frosted so thickly that they had to light the sickly tallow candle in a tin box over the door of the compartment, so she never got a peep at Russia or anything else the whole way.

We consoled each other and kept up our spirits as best we could all day, but we arrived at Kiev so exhausted with cold and hunger that although we were received at the train by one of the most charming men I ever met, we both cried with relief at the sight of a friendly face and some one to whom we could speak and tell our woes. I have since wondered what he thought to be met by two forlorn women in tears! Whatever he thought, like all the Russians, he was courtesy itself, and we were soon whisked away to the inexpressible comfort of being thawed and fed.

Such a beautiful city as this is! Whitelaw Reid has declared Kiev to be one of the four picturesque cities in Europe; certainly it lies in a heavenly place, all up and down hills, with such vistas down the streets to where a mosque raises its gilded dome, or where an historic bronze statue stands out against the horizon. If Kiev had been planned by the French, it could not be more utterly beautiful. The domes of the cathedrals are blue, studded with gold stars; or else pale green or all gold, and the most exquisite churches in all Russia are in Kiev. A terrible monastery, where you take candles and go down into the bowels of the earth to see where monks martyred themselves, is here; and poor simple-minded pilgrims walk many hundred miles to kiss these tombs. Their devotion is pathetic. We had to walk in a procession of them, and I know that each of them had his own particular disease and his own special brand of dirt. The beggars surrounding the gate of this monastery are too awful to mention, yet it is reputed to be the richest monastery in all Russia.

In Kiev we heard “Hamlet” in Russian, and the man who played Hamlet was wonderfully good, surprisingly good. You don’t know how strange it sounded to hear “To be or not to be” in Russian! The acting was so familiar, the words so strange. The audience went crazy over him, as Russian audiences always do. We watched him come out and bow thirty-nine times, and when we came away the noise was still deafening.

They make a sort of candy in Kiev which goes far and away above any sweets I ever have seen. It is a sort of candied rose. The whole rose is there. It is a solid soft pink mass, and it tastes just as a tea-rose smells. It is simply celestial.

We dearly love Kiev, it is so hauntingly beautiful. You can’t forget it. Your mind keeps returning to it, but it is the sort of beauty that you can’t describe satisfactorily. It is like your mother’s face. You can see the beauty for yourself, but no one else can see it as you do, for the love which is behind it.

In Odessa we began to leave Russia behind us. Odessa is all sorts of a place. It is commercial, and not beautiful, but, as usual, our Russian friends made us forget the town and its sights, and remember only their sweet hospitality and friendliness.

We wished to catch the Russian steamer for Constantinople, but we were told that the police would not permit us to leave on such short notice. We felt that this was hard, for we had tried so consistently to be good in Russia that I was determined to go if possible. So I took an interpreter and drove to the police headquarters myself. To my amazement and delight my man told me that it could all be arranged by the payment of a few rubles. But that “few rubles” mounted up into many before I got my passports duly vised. I discovered that our American police are not so _very_ different from Russian police after all, even if they _are_ Irish!

We caught the steamer–the dear, clean, lovely _Nickolai II._, with the stewardess a Greek named Aspasia, and I persisted in calling the steward Pericles, just to have things match.

Then we crunched our way out of the harbor through the ice into the Black Sea, and sailed away for Constantinople.

IX

CONSTANTINOPLE

Constantinople had three different effects upon me. The first was to make me utterly despise it for its sickening dirt; the second was when I forgot all about the mud and garbage, and went crazy over its picturesque streets with their steep slopes, odd turns, and bewitching vistas, and the last was to make me dread Cairo for fear it would seem tame in comparison, for Constantinople is enchanting. If I were a painter I would never leave off painting its delights and spreading its fascinations broadcast; and then I would take all the money I got for my pictures and spend it in the bazaars, and if I regretted my purchases I would barter them for others, because Constantinople is the beginning of the Orient, and if you remain long you become thoroughly metamorphosed, and you bargain, trade, exchange, and haggle until you forget that you ever were a Christian. The hour of our arrival in Constantinople was an accident. The steamer _Nickolai II._ was late, and as no one may land there after sunset, we were forced to lie in the Bosphorus all night.

It was dark when we sighted the city, but it was one of those clear darks where without any apparent light you can see everything. _Surely_ no other city in the world has so beautiful an approach! Our great black steamer threaded her way between men-of-war, sail-boats, and all sorts of shipping, and if there were a thousand lights twinkling in the water there were a million from the city. It lies on a series of hills curved out like a monster amphitheatre, and it stretches all the way around. I looked up into the heavens, and it seemed to me that I never had seen so many stars in my life. Our sky at home has not so many. Yet there were no more than the yellow points of flame which flickered in every part of that sleeping city. Three tall minarets pierced above the horizon, and each of these wore circles of light which looked like necklaces and girdles of fire. Patches of black now and then showed where there were trees or marked a graveyard. Occasionally we heard a shrill cry or the barking of dogs, but these sounds came faintly, and seemed a part of the fairy-picture. It looked so much like a scene from an opera that I half expected to see the curtain go down and the lights flare up, and I feared the applause which always spoils the dream.

But nothing spoiled this dream. All night we lay in the beautiful Bosphorus, and all night at intervals I looked out of my porthole at that lovely sleeping princess. It never grew any less lovely. Its beauty and charm increased.

But in the morning everything was changed. A band of howling, screaming, roaring, fighting pirates came alongside in dirty row-boats, and to our utter consternation we found these bloodthirsty brigands were to row us to land. Not one word could we understand in all that fearful uproar. We were watching them in a terror too abject to describe, when, to our joy, an English voice said, “I am the guide for the two American ladies, and here is the kavass which the American minister sent down to meet you. The consul at Odessa cabled your arrival.”

Oh, how glad we were! We loaded them with thanks and hand-luggage, and scrambled down the stairway at the side of the steamer. A dozen dirty hands were stretched out to receive us. We clutched at their sleeves instead, and pitched into the boat, and our trunks came tumbling after us, and away we went over the roughest of seas, which splashed us and made us feel a little queer; and then we landed at the dirtiest, smelliest quay, and picked our way through a filthy custom-house, where, in spite of bribery and corruption, they opened my trunk and examined all the photographs of the family, which happened to be on top, and made remarks about them in Turkish which made the other men laugh. The mud came up over our overshoes as we stood there, so that altogether we were quite heated in temper when we found ourselves in an alley outside, filled with garbage which had been there forever, and learned that this alley was a street, and a very good one for Constantinople, too.

The porters in Turkey are marvels of strength. They wear a sort of cushioned saddle on their backs, and to my amazement two men tossed my enormous trunk on this saddle. I saw it leave their hands before it reached his poor bent back; he staggered a little, gave it a hitch to make it more secure, then started up the hill on a trot.

I never saw so much mud, such unspeakably filthy streets, and so many dogs as Constantinople can boast. You drive at a gallop up streets slanting at an angle of forty-five degrees, and you nearly fall out of the back of the carriage. Then presently you come to the top of that hill and start down the other side, still at a gallop, and you brace your feet to keep from pitching over the driver’s head. You would notice the dogs first were it not for the smells. But as it is, you cannot even see until you get your salts to your nose. The odors are so thick that they darken the air. You are disappointed in the dogs, however. There are quite as many of them as you expected. You have not been misled as to the number of them, but nowhere have I seen them described in a satisfactory way–so that you knew what to expect, I mean. In the first place, they hardly look like dogs. They have woolly tails like sheep. Their eyes are dull, sleepy, and utterly devoid of expression. Constantinople dogs have neither masters nor brains. No brains because no masters. Perhaps no masters because no brains. Nobody wants to adopt an idiot. They are, of course, mongrels of the most hopeless type. They are yellowish, with thick, short, woolly coats, and much fatter than you expect to find them. They walk like a funeral procession. Never have I seen one frisk or even wag his tail. Everybody turns out for them. They sleep–from twelve to twenty of them–on a single pile of garbage, and never notice either men or each other unless a dog which lives in the next street trespasses. Then they eat him up, for they are jackals as well as dogs, and they are no more epicures than ostriches. They never show interest in anything. They are _blase_. I saw some mother dogs asleep, with tiny puppies swarming over them like little fat rats, but the mothers paid no attention to them. Children seem to bore them quite as successfully as if they were women of fashion.

We went sailing up the Golden Horn to the Skutari cemetery, one of the loveliest spots of this thrice-fascinating Constantinople. As we were descending that steep hill upon which it is situated we met a darling little baby Turk in a fez riding on a pony which his father was leading. This child of a different race, and six thousand miles away, looked so much like our Billy that I wanted to eat him up–dirt and all. I contented myself with giving him backsheesh, while my companion photographed him. Such an afternoon as that was on that lovely golden river, with the sun just setting, and our picturesque boatmen sending the boat through thousands upon thousands of sea-gulls just to make them fly, until the air grew dark with their wings, and the sunlight on their white breasts looked like a great glistening snow-storm!

One night we went to a masked ball given for the benefit of a new hospital which is situated upon the Golden Horn. It was given by Mr. Levy, one of the Turkish Commissioners at the World’s Fair, and the decorations were something marvellous. The walls were hung with embroideries which drove us the next day to the bazaars and nearly bankrupted us. Every street of Constantinople looks like a masked ball, so this one merely continued the illusion. We could distinguish the Mohammedan women from the others because they all went home before midnight without unmasking.

This ball is interesting because it is called “The Engagement Ball.” We were told that only at a subscription ball given for a charity in which their parents are interested and feel under moral obligation to support by their presence are the young people of Constantinople allowed to meet each other. The fathers and mothers occupy the boxes, and thus, under their very eyes, and masked, can love affairs be brought to a conclusion. During the week which followed no fewer than ten important engagements were duly heralded in the columns of the newspapers.

The most exciting things in Constantinople are the earthquakes. We were afraid they would not have any while we were there, but they accommodated us with a very satisfactory one! It upset my ink-bottle and broke the lamp and rattled everything in the room until I was delighted. When my companion came in she was indignant to think that I had enjoyed the earthquake all to myself, for she was in the rooms of the American Bible Society, and being thus protected, did not feel it. But I told her that that was her punishment for trying to prove that a missionary had cheated her, for she was not in that place for a godly purpose.

At another time, however, we met with better success in obtaining a sensation of a different sort. We visited, in company with our Turkish friend, a small but wonderfully beautiful mosque not often seen by ordinary tourists, and afterwards went up on Galata tower to get the fine view of Constantinople which may be had there. It was just before sunset again, and I am quite unable to make you see the utter loveliness of it. We crawled out on the narrow ledge which surrounds the top, and I had just got a capital picture of my companion as she clutched the Turk to prevent being blown off, for the wind was something terrible, when suddenly the keepers rushed to the windows and jabbered excitedly in Turkish and ran up a flag, and behold, there was a fire! Galata tower is the fire observatory. By the flags they hoist you can tell where the fire is. I never was at a fire in my life. Even when our stables burned down I was away from home. So here was my opportunity. The way we drove down those narrow streets was enough to make one think that we were the fire department itself. But when we arrived we found to our grief that it was our dear little mosque which was burning. Undoubtedly we were the last visitors to enter it.

We went back to the hotel for dinner, and about nine o’clock, hearing that the fire was spreading, we drove down again with our Turk, who regarded it as no unusual thing to take American women to two fires in the same day. We found the tenement-houses burning. Our carriage gave us no vantage-ground, so our friend, who speaks twelve languages, obtained permission to enter a house and go up on the roof. We never stopped to think that we might catch all sorts of diseases; we were so pleased at the courtesy of the poor souls. They had all their poor belongings packed ready to remove if the fire crept any nearer, but they ran ahead and lighted us up the dark stairway with candles, and told us in Turkish what an honor we were doing their house, all of which touched me deeply. I wondered how many people I would have assisted up to _our_ roof if _my_ clothes were tied up in sheets in the hall, with the fire not a square away!

Fortunately, it came no nearer, and from that high, flat roof we watched the seething mass of yellow flames grow less and less and then go completely under control. It was Providence which did it, however, and not the Constantinople fire department, with its little streams of water the size of slate-pencils!

The dogs were one of the sights we were anxious to see; the Sultan was the other. We found the bazaars more fascinating than either. But we wanted to photograph the Sultan–chiefly, I think, because it was forbidden. I have an ever-present unruly desire to do everything which these foreign countries absolutely forbid. But everybody said we could not. So we very meekly went to see him go to prayers, and left our cameras with the kavass. We had, with our customary good fortune, a window directly in front of the Sultan’s gate, not twenty feet from the door of the mosque.

“If I had that camera here I could get him, and _nobody_ would know!” I declared.

“But there are so many spies,” our Turkish friend said. “It would be too dangerous.”

We waited, and waited, and waited. Never have the hours seemed so mortally long as they seemed to us as we watched the hands of the clock crawl past luncheon-time, hours and hours later than the Sultan was announced to pray, and still no Sultan. His little six-and seven-year old sons, in the uniform of colonels, were mounted on superb Arabian horses. These horses had tails so long that servants held them up going through the mud, as if they were ladies’ trains. The children were dear things, with clear olive complexions and soft, dark eyes–Italian eyes. Then they grew tired of waiting, and dismounted, and came up to where we were, and shook hands in the sweetest manner. My companion was for coaxing the little one into her lap, but she looked somewhat staggered when I reminded her that she would be trotting the colonel of the regiment on her knee.

Then more cavalry came, and more bands, playing a little the worst of any that I ever heard, and we impatiently thrust our heads out of the window, thinking, of course, the Sultan was coining, but he was not. Then some infantry with white leggings and stiff knee-joints, with coils of green gas-pipe on their heads, like our student-lamps, marched by with a gait like a battalion of horses with the string-halt, and we shrieked with laughter. Our friend said they called that the German step. Germany would declare war with Turkey if she ever heard that.

By this time we were so tired and hungry and disgusted that we were about to go home and give up the Sultan when we saw no fewer than fifty men come toiling up the hill with carpet-bags, as if they had brought their clothes, and intended to see the Sultan if it took a week. I do not know who or what they were, and I do not want to know. They served their purpose with us in that they put us into instantaneous good humor, and just then there was a commotion, and everybody straightened up and craned their necks; and then, preceded by his body-guard, the Sultan drove slowly down, looked directly up at our window (and we groaned), and then turned in at the gate. Opposite to him sat Osman Pasha, the hero of Plevna. The ladies of the harem were driven into the court-yard surrounded by eunuchs, the horses were taken from their carriages, and there the ladies sat, guarded like prisoners, until the Sultan came out again. He then mounted into a superb gold chariot drawn by two beautiful white horses, and he himself drove out. Everybody salaamed, and he raised his hand in return as if it was all the greatest possible bore.

While he was driving into the court-yard the priest came out on the minaret and called men to prayer, and an English girl who sat at the next window informed her mother that he was announcing the names of the important persons in the procession! Her mother trained her glasses on him–a mere speck against the sky–and said, “Fancy!”

The Sultan is not a beauty. If he were in America his sign would be that of the three golden balls.

We went to see the mosques, and the officials and priests and boatmen were so cross and surly on account of the fast of Ramazan that they would not let us take photographs without a fight. During Ramazan they neither eat nor drink between sunrise and sunset.

On the fifteenth day of Ramazan the Sultan goes to the mosque of Eyoob to buckle on the sword of Mohammed in order to remind himself that the power of that sword has descended to himself. He does not announce his route, therefore the whole city is in a commotion, and they spread miles of streets with sand for fear he might take it into his head to go by some unusual way. It passes my comprehension why they should ever put any more dirt in the streets even for a Sultan. But sand is a mark of respect in Russia and Turkey, and it really cleans the streets a little. At least it absorbs the mud. Just as we were about to start for a balcony beneath which he was almost sure to pass, our Turkish friend whispered to us that if we wore capes we might take our cameras. Imagine our delight, for it was so dangerous. But the capes! Ours were not half long enough to conceal the camera properly. It was growing late. So in a perfect frenzy I dragged out my long pale blue _sortie du bal_, ripped the white velvet capes from it, pinned a short sable cape to the top of it with safety-pins, and enveloped myself in this gorgeousness at eleven o’clock in the morning. We made a curious trio. Our Turk was in English tweeds with a fez. My companion wore a smart tailor gown, and I was got up as if for a fancy-dress ball, but in the streets of Constantinople no one gave me a second glance. I was in mourning compared to some of the others.

On the balcony with us were two small boys with projecting ears, of whom I stood in deadly terror, for if their boyish interest centred in that camera of mine I was lost. Presently, however, with a tremendous clatter, the Sultan’s advance-guard came galloping down the street. I got them, turned the film, and was ready for the next–the carriages of the state officials. I aimed well, and got them, but I was growing nervous. The boys writhed closer. I shoved them a little when their mother was not looking.

“Don’t try to take so many,” said our Turk. “Here comes the Sultan. Aim low, and don’t fire until you see the whites of his eyes.”

Again he looked up directly at us, and I snapped the shutter promptly. It was done. I had succeeded in photographing the Sultan! To be sure, it was an offense against the state, punishable by fine and imprisonment, but nobody had caught me. The little boy next to me, who had walked on my dress and ground his elbows into me, craned his neck and stared at the Sultan with round eyes. He had been in my way ever since we arrived, but in an exuberance of tenderness I patted his head.

But when we had those negatives developed I discovered to my disgust that instead of the Sultan I had taken an excellent photograph of that wretched little boy’s ear.

X

CAIRO

I need not have been afraid that the charms of Constantinople would spoil Cairo for me, although at first I was disappointed. Most places have to be lived up to, especially one like Cairo, whose attractions are vaunted by every tourist, every woman of fashion, every scholar, every idle club-man, everybody, either with brains or without. I wondered how it _could_ be all things to all men. I simply thought it was the fashion to rave about it, and I was sick of the very sound of its name before I came. It was too perfect. It aroused the spirit of antagonism in me.

First of all, when you arrive in Cairo you find that it is very, very fashionable. You can get everything here, and yet it is practically the end of the world. Nearly everybody who comes here turns around and goes back. Few go on. Even when you go up the Nile you must come back to Cairo. There is really nowhere else to go.

You drive through smart English streets, and when you find yourself at Shepheard’s you are at the most famous hotel in the world; yet, strange to say, in spite of its size, in spite of the thousands of learned, famous, titled, and distinguished people who have been here, in spite of its smartness and fashion, it is the most homelike hotel I ever was in. Everybody seems to know about you and to take an interest in what you are doing, and all the servants know your name and the number of your room, and when you go out into the great corridor, or when you sit on the terrace, there is not a trace of the supercilious scrutiny which takes a mental inventory of your clothes and your looks and your letter of credit, which so often spoils the sunset for you at similar hotels.

Ghezireh Palace is even more fashionable than Shepheard’s. Here we have baronets and counts and a few earls. But there they have dukes and kings and emperors, yet there is a gold-and-alabaster mantelpiece which takes your mind even from royalty, it is so beautiful. Ghezireh is situated on the Nile, half an hour’s drive away, so that in spite of its royal atmosphere it never will take the place of Shepheard’s. Here you see all the interesting people you have heard of in your life. You trip over the easels of famous artists in an angle of the narrow street, and many famous authors, scientists, archaeologists, and scholars are here working or resting.

Yesterday I was told that four Americans who stood talking together on the terrace represented two hundred millions of dollars. At dinner the red coats of the officers make brilliant spots of color among all the black of the other men, and at first sight it does seem too odd to see evening dress consist of black trousers and a bright-red coat which stops off short at the waist. But if you think that looks odd, what will you say to the officers of the Highland regiments? _Their_ full dress is almost as immodest in a different way as that of some women, and one of the most exquisite paradoxes of British custom is that a Highland undress uniform consists of the addition of long-trousers–more clothes than they wear in dress uniform.

Cairo is cosmopolitan. You may ride a smart cob, a camel, or a donkey, and nobody will even look twice at you. You will see harem carriages with closed blinds; coupes with the syces running before them (and there is nothing in Cairo more beautiful than some of these men and the way they run); you will see the Khedive driving with his body-guard of cavalry; you will see fat Egyptian nurses out in basket phaeton with little English children; you will see tiny boys, no bigger than our Billy, in a fever of delight over riding on a live donkey, and attended by a syce; you will see emancipated Egyptian women trying to imitate European dress and manners, and making a mess of it; you will see gamblers, adventurers, and savants all mixed together, with all the hues of the rainbow in their costumes; you will see water-carriers carrying drinking-water in nasty-looking dried skins, which still retain the outlines of the animals, only swollen out of shape, and unspeakably revolting; you will see native women carrying their babies astride their shoulders, with the little things resting their tiny brown hands on their mothers’ heads, and often laying their little black heads down, too, and going fast to sleep, while these women walk majestically through the streets with only their eyes showing; you will see all sorts of hideous cripples, and more blind and cross-eyed people than you ever saw in all your life before; you will see venders of fly-brushes, turquoises, amber, ostrich-feathers, bead necklaces from Nubia, scarabaei and antiquities which bear the hall-marks of the manufacturers as clearly as if stamped “Made in Germany”; you will see sore-eyed children sitting in groups in doorways, with numberless flies on each eye, making no effort to dislodge them; and you will visit mosques and bazaars which you feel sure call for insect-powder; you will see Arabian men knitting stockings in the street, and thinking it no shame; you will see countless eunuchs with their coal-black, beardless faces, their long, soft, nerveless hands, long legs, and the general make-up of a mushroom-boy who has outgrown his strength; you will hear the cawing of countless rooks and crows, and if you leave your window open these rascals will fly in and eat your fruit and sweets; you will see and hear the picturesque lemonade-vendor selling his vile-tasting acid from a long, beautiful brass vessel of irregular shape, and you never can get away from the horrible jangling noise he makes from two brass bowls to call attention to his wares; you will see tiny boys in tights doing acrobatic feats on the sidewalk, walking on their hands in front of you for a whole square as you take your afternoon stroll, and then pleading with you for backsheesh; you will see hideous monkeys of a sort you never saw before, trained to do the same thing, so that you cannot walk out in Cairo without being attended with some sort of a bodyguard, either monkey, acrobat, cripple, or the beggar-girls with their sweet, plaintive voices, their pretty smiles, and their eternal hunger, to coax the piasters from your open purse. But you accept these sights and sounds as a part of this wonderful old city, and each day the fascination will grow on you until you will be obliged to go to a series of afternoon teas in order to cool your enthusiasm.

In passing, the flies of Egypt deserve a tribute to their peculiar qualities. A plague of American flies would be a luxury compared to the visit of one fly from Egypt. For untold centuries they have been in the habit of crawling over thick-skinned faces and bodies, and not being dislodged. They can stay all day if they like. Consequently, if they see an American eye, and they light on it, not content with that, they try to crawl in. You attempt to brush them off, but they only move around to the other side, until you nearly go mad with nervousness from their sticky feet. If they find out your ear they crawl in and walk around. You cannot discourage them. They craze you with their infuriating persistence. If _I_ had been the Egyptians, the Israelites would have been escorted out of the country in state at the arrival of the first fly.

England has done a marvellous good to Egypt by her training. She has taken a lot of worthless rascals and educated them to work at something, no matter if it does take five of them to call a cab. She has trained them to make good soldiers, well drilled because drilled by English officers, and making a creditable showing. She has made fairly dependable policemen of them, but their legs are the most wabbly and crooked of any that ever were seen. These policemen are armed. One carries a pistol and the other the cartridges. If they happened to be together they could be very dangerous to criminals. She has developed all the resources of the country, and made it fat and productive, but she never can give the common people brains.

It poured rain this morning, and there is no drainage; consequently, rivers of water were rushing down the gutters, making crossings impassable and traffic impossible. They called out the fire-engines to pump the water up in the main thoroughfare, but on a side street I stopped the carriage for half an hour and watched four Arabs working at the problem. One walked in with a broom and swept the water down the gutter to another man who had a dust-pan. With this dustpan he scooped up as much as a pint of water at a time, and poured it into a tin pail, which gave occupation to the third Arab, who stood in a bent position and urged him on. The fourth Arab then took this pail of water, ran out, and emptied it into the middle of the street, and the water beat him running back to the gutter. I said to them, “Why don’t you use a sieve? It would take longer.” And they said, “No speak English.”

I watched them until I grew tired, and then I went to the ostrich-farm as a sort of distraction, and I really think that an ostrich has more brains than an Arab.

This farm is very large, and the ostrich-pens are built of mud. I never had seen ostriches before, and I had no idea how hideous, how big, and how enchanting they are. They have the most curious agate-colored eyes–colorless, cold, yet intelligent eyes. But they are the eyes of a bird without a conscience. They have no soul, as camels have. An ostrich looks as if he would really enjoy villainy, as if he could commit crime after crime from pure love of it, and never know remorse; yet there is a fascination about the old birds, and they have their good points. The father is domestic in spite of looking as if he belonged to all the clubs, and, much to my delight, I saw one sitting on the eggs while the mother walked out and took the air. Ostriches and Arabs do women’s work with an admirable disregard of Mrs. Grundy. Ostriches have an irresistible way of waving their lovely plumy wings, and one old fellow twenty-five years old actually imitates the dervishes. The keeper says to him, “Dance,” and although he is about ten feet tall, he sits down with his scaly legs spread out on each side of him, and, shutting his eyes, he throws his long, ugly red neck from side to side, making a curious grunting noise, and waving his wings in billowy line like a skirt-dancer. It was too wonderful to see him, and it was almost as revolting as a real dervish.

We saw these dervishes once; nothing could persuade us to go twice–they were too nasty. The night the Khedive goes to the Citadel, to the mosque of Mohammed Ali, to pray for his heart’s desire (for on that night all prayers of the faithful are sure to be answered), the dervishes in great numbers are performing their rites. They are called the howling dervishes, but they do not howl; they only make a horrible grunting noise. They have long, dirty, greasy hair, and as they throw their bodies backward and forward this hair flies, and sometimes strikes the careless observer in the face. They work themselves up to a perfect passion of religious ecstasy to the monotonous sound of Arab music, and never have I heard or seen anything more revolting. The negroes in the South when they “get the power” are not nearly so repulsive.

It is England’s wise policy in all her colonies to have her army take part in the national religious ceremonies, so when the Sacred Carpet started from the Citadel on its journey to Mecca there was a magnificent military display.

It is an odd thing to call it a carpet, for it not only is not a carpet in itself, but it is not the shape of a carpet, it is not used for a carpet, and does not look like a carpet.

We were among the fortunate ones who were invited to the private view of it the night before, when the faithful were dedicating it. They sat on the floor, these Mohammedans, rocking themselves back and forth, and chanting the Koran. I believe the reason nearly all Arabs have crooked legs is because they squat so much. One cannot have straight legs when one uses one’s legs to sit down on for hours at a time. They always sit in the sun, too, and that must bake them into their crookedness.

The “carpet” is a black velvet embroidered solidly in silver and gold. It is shaped like an old-fashioned Methodist church, only there are minarets at the four corners. It looks like a pall. Every year they send a new one to Mecca, and then the old one is cut into tiny bits and distributed among the faithful, who wear it next their hearts.

This carpet was about six feet long, and was railed in so that no one could touch it. A man stood by and sprayed attar of roses on you as you passed, but I do not know what he did it for, unless it was to turn sensitive women faint with the heaviness of the perfume.

But the next morning the procession formed, and amid the wildest enthusiasm, the bowing and salaaming of the men, and the shouting and running of the children, and the singing of the Arabs who bore the carpet, it was placed upon the most magnificent camel I ever saw, which was covered from head to foot with cloth of gold, and whose very gait seemed more majestic because of his sacred burden, and thus, led by scores of enthusiastic Arabs, he moved slowly down the street, following the covering for the tomb, and in turn being followed by one scarcely less magnificent destined to cover the sacred carpet in its camel journey to Mecca. That was absolutely all there was to it, yet the Khedive was there with a fine military escort, and all Cairo turned out at the unearthly hour of eight o’clock in the morning to see it.

As we drove back we saw the streets for blocks around a certain house hung with colored-glass lanterns, and thousands upon thousands of small Turkey-red banners with white Arabic letters on them strung on wires on each side of the street. These we knew were the decorations for the famous wedding which was to occur that night, and to which we had fortunately been bidden. It was in very smart society. The son of a pasha was to marry the daughter of a pasha, and the presents were said to be superb.

We wore our best clothes. We had ordered our bouquets beforehand, for one always presents the bride with a bouquet, and they were really very beautiful. It was a warm night, with no wind, and the heavens were twinkling with millions of stars. Such big stars as they have in Egypt!

When we arrived we were taken in charge by a eunuch so black that I had to feel my way up-stairs. There were, perhaps, fifty other eunuchs standing guard in the ante-chamber, and our dragoman took the men who brought us around to another door, where all the men had to wait while we women visited the bride.

A motley throng of women were in the outer room–fat black women with waists two yards around, canary-colored women laced into low-cut European evening dresses, brown women in native dress; a babel of voices, chattering in curious French, Arabic, Turkish, and Greek. All the women were terribly out of shape from every point of view, and not a pretty one among them. One attendant snatched my bouquet without even a “Thank you” (I had been wondering to whom I should give it, but I need not have worried), and patted me on the back as she pushed me into the room where the bride sat on a throne amid piles upon piles of bouquets. She had a heavy, pale face covered with powder, eyes and eyebrows blackened, nails stained with henna, and a figure much too fat. She wore a garment made of something which looked like mosquito-netting heavily embroidered in gold, which hung like a rag. Her jewels were magnificent, but the effect of all this gorgeousness was rather spoiled to the artistic eye by her grotesque surroundings.

After we had visited the bride we were approached by a little yellow woman in blue satin, who asked me in French if I would not like to see the _chambre a coucher_, and I said I would. We were then conducted to a room all hung in blue satin embroidered in red. Lambrequins, chair-covers, bed-covers, pillows, bed-hangings–all the careful work of the bride. Then we were invited to inspect the presents in another room, which were all in glass cabinets. Dozens of amber and jewelled cigarette-holders and ornaments of every description, most magnificent, but of no earthly use–as wedding presents sometimes are.

Then we came down-stairs, and had all sorts of things at a banquet, and heard Arab music, and sat around in the room, where our men met us, and feeling rather bored, we decided to go home. There we were wise, for we met quite by accident the procession of the bridegroom. He was escorted through the streets by a band, and two rows of young men carrying candelabra under glass shades. We turned and drove along beside him and watched him, but he was so nervous we felt that it was rather a mean thing to do. He was a handsome fellow, but never have I seen a man who looked so unhappy and ill at ease. When he entered the house he proceeded to the door of the bride’s room, where he threw down silver and gold as backsheesh until her women were satisfied; then he was permitted to enter.

As we drove away for the second time I remembered that they were having “torchlight tattoo” at the barracks, and we decided to stop for a moment.

“It won’t seem bad to see some soldiers who can march, for the English soldiers are magnificently trained,” I said, as we stopped to buy our tickets. A young officer whom I had met heard my remark, and smiled and saluted.

“The English soldiers _are_ the best in the world, _aren’t_ they?” he said, teasingly.

“Undoubtedly,” I replied, tranquilly.

He looked a little staggered. He had encountered my belligerent spirit before, and he did not expect me to agree with him.

“You–you, an American, admit _that_?” he said.

“Surely,” I replied. “But why?” he persisted, most unwisely, for it gave me my chance.

“Because the Americans are the only ones who ever whipped them! American soldiers can beat even the best!”

It is now six weeks since I said that, but as yet he has made no reply.

XI

THE NILE

In travelling abroad there are some things which you wish to do more than others. There are certain treasures you particularly desire to see, certain scenes your mind has pictured, until the dream has almost become a reality. The ascent of the Nile was one of my Meccas, and now that it is over the reality has almost become a dream.

In Egypt the weather is so nearly perfect during the season that it was no surprise to find the day of our departure a cloudless one. I seldom worry myself to arrange beforehand for the creature comforts of a journey, trusting to the beneficent star which seems to hover over the unworthy to shine upon my pathway. But this time I had so dreamed of and brooded over and longed for the Nile that I went so far as to investigate the different lines of boats, and we chose the moonlight time of the month, and we hurried through Russia and Turkey and Greece with but one aim in view, and that was to have our feet on the deck of the _Mayflower_ on the 19th of February. And we succeeded.

Ah, it was a dream well worth realizing! Twenty-one days of rest. Three glorious weeks of smooth sailing over calm waters. Three weeks of warmth and sunshine by day, and of poetry and starlight by night. Three weeks of drifting in the romance which surrounds the name of that great sorceress, that wonderful siren, that consummate coquette, that most fascinating woman the world has ever known. Three weeks of steeping one’s soul in the oldest, most complete and satisfactory ruins on the face of the earth. Here, in delving into the past, we would have no use for the comparative word “hundreds.” We could boldly use the superlative word “thousands.” What memories! what dreams! what fragments of half-forgotten history and romance came floating through the brain! I have, generally, little use for guide-books except, afterwards, to verify what I have seen. But I admit that I had an especial longing to reach the temple of Denderah, which was said to contain the most famous relief of Cleopatra extant. I was anxious to see if her beauty or her charm or anything which accounted for her sorceries were reproduced. “If Cleopatra’s nose had been shorter, the whole history of the world would have been changed.” How far away she seemed! How near she would become!

On the terrace at Shepheard’s the morning of our departure you could see by people’s faces how they were going to make this journey. Some had Stanley helmets on, and were laden with cushions and steamer-chairs and fruits as if for an ocean voyage. Others were clutching their Baedeker, and their Amelia Edwards, and their “Kismet,” and their note-books, and wore a do-or-die expression of countenance. One or two others floated around aimlessly, with dreamy eyes, as if they were already lost in the past which now pressed so closely at hand. Then the coach from the Gehzireh Palace rolled by in a cloud of dust, and people hurried down the steps of Shepheard’s and took their places in _our_ coach, and the dragomans in their gorgeous costumes followed with wraps, and the porters bustled about stowing away hand-luggage, and Arabs crowded near, thrusting their violets and roses and amber necklaces and beaded fly-brushes into your very face, and the old man who sells turquoises made his last effort to sell you a set for shirt-studs, and the Egyptians and East-Indians from the bazaars opposite came to the door and looked on with the perennial interest and friendliness of the Orient, and a swarm of beggars pleaded, with the excitement of a last chance, for backsheesh, and there was a babel of tongues–French, English, Italian, German, and Arabic, all hurtling about your ears like so many verbal bullets in a battle, when suddenly the door slammed, the driver cracked his whip, the coach lurched forward, the children scattered–and we were off.

Everybody knows when a boat starts up the Nile, and everybody is interested and nods and waves to everybody else. There was a short drive to the river amid polite calls of “good-bye” and “_bon voyage_,” and there lay the _Mayflower_, like a great white bird with comfortably folded wings. Nobody seemed to hurry much, for a Nile boat does not start until her passengers are all on board. An hour or so makes no difference.

You go down the bank of the Nile to go on board a boat upon steps cut in the earth, and if your hands are full and you cannot hold up your dress, you sweep some three inches of fine yellow dust after you. But you don’t care. The man ahead scuffed his dust in your face, and the woman behind you is sneezing in yours, and everything and everybody are a little yellowish from it, but nobody stops to brush it off. It is too exciting to hurry up on deck and place your steamer-chair and fling your things into your stateroom and rush out again for fear that you will miss something. There were Italians, French, English, Poles, Swedes, and Americans on board. Some of them had titles. Some had only bad manners, with nothing to excuse them. But, after all, everybody was nice, I got through the whole three weeks without hating anybody and with only wanting to drown one passenger. What better record of amiability could you ask?

But one thing marred the start. This Anglo-American line of boats is the only line in Egypt which flies the American flag. That was the final inducement they offered which decided my choice of the _Mayflower_. But while we knew that she was obliged to fly the British flag also, we were indignant beyond words to see a huge Union Jack floating at the top of the forward flagstaff and beneath it a toy American flag about the size of a cigar-box. _Beneath_ the English flag! I nearly wept with rage. The owner of the line was at hand, and I did not wait to draw up a petition or to consult my fellow-Americans. I just said: “Have the goodness to haul down that infant American flag, will you? I have no objection to sailing under both, but I do object to such an insulting disparity in size. Besides that, you seem to have forgotten that the American flag never flies _below_ any other flag on God’s green earth!”

He made some apologies, and gave the order at once. The baby was hauled down amid the smiles of the English passengers. But at Assiout we were avenged when an enormous American flag arrived by rail and was hoisted to the main flagstaff, twenty feet higher than the British. When I came out on deck that Sunday morning, and saw that blessed flag waving above me, everything blurred before my eyes, and I do assure you that it was the most beautiful sight I saw in all of that European continent. You may talk about your temples and your ruins and your old masters! Have _you_ ever seen “Old Glory” flying straight out from a flagstaff in a foreign country seven thousand miles away from home?

The Nile is much broader than I expected to find it, and, like the Missouri and the Golden Horn, it is always muddy. The _Mayflower_ carries only fifty passengers, which is of the greatest advantage for donkey-rides and for seeing the ruins, a larger party being unwieldy. She draws but two feet of water, having been built expressly for Nile service, so we had the proud satisfaction of seeing one of the big Rameses boats stuck on a sand-bank for eighteen hours, while we tooted past her blowing whistles of defiance and derision. Whenever we felt ourselves going aground on a sand-bank we just reversed the engines and backed off again, or else put on extra steam and ground our way through it. In the whole three weeks we were not aground five minutes, although we passed one wreck settling in the water, with the bedding and stores piled up on the bank, and the passengers sailing away in the swallow-winged feluccas, which had swooped down to their rescue like so many compassionate birds.

Afternoon tea on the Nile is an unforgetable function. Everybody comes on deck and sits under the awning and watches the sun go down. Each day the sunsets grow more beautiful. Each day they differ from all the rest. Such yellows and purples! Such violet shadows on the golden water! Such a marvellously sudden sinking of the sun in a crimson flame behind the flat brown hills! And then the stillness of the Nile in the opal aftermath! Those sunsets are something to carry in the memory forever and a day.

At night the sailors lower the side awnings, crawling along the railings with their naked prehensile feet. The captain, a Nubian, on a salary of eighty-five cents a day, selects a suitable spot on the bank where the boat may remain all night. Then the bow of the boat heads for the shore and digs her nose in the soft mud. The sailors pitch the stakes and mallets out on to the bank and spring ashore. Then with Arab songs which they always sing when rowing, hauling ropes, scrubbing the decks, or doing any sort of work, the stern is gradually hauled alongside the bank, and there we stay until morning in a stillness so absolute that even the cry of the jackals seems in harmony with the loneliness of it.

I dreaded the first excursion. It was to Memphis and Sakhara, eighteen miles in all, and I never had been on a donkey in my life. I am not afraid of horses, but donkeys are so much like mules. My friends encouraged me all they could. They said that I would have a donkey-boy all to myself, that the donkey never went out of a walk, and wound up by the cheerful assurance that if he did pitch me over his head I would not have far to fall.

The donkey-boys of the Nile deserve a book all to themselves. Such craft! Such flattery! Such knowledge of human nature! With unerring sagacity they discover your nationality and give your donkey names famous in your own country. Never will an Englishman find himself astride “Yankee Doodle” or “Uncle Sam,” or an American upon “John Bull.” They pick you up in their arms to put you on or take you from your donkey as if you were a baby. They run beside you holding your umbrella with one hand, and with the other arm holding you on if you are timid. Staid, dignified women who teach Sunday-school classes at home, who would not permit a white manservant to touch them, lean on their donkey-boys as if they were human balustrades.

My first donkey-boy was an enchanting rascal. He looked like a handsome bronze statue. My donkey was a pale, drab little beast, woolly and dejected. He looked as though if you hurled contemptuous epithets at him for a week they would all fit his case. My companion’s was more jaunty. He had been clipped in patterns. His legs were all done in hieroglyphics, and he held his ears up while mine trailed his in the sand.

Nevertheless, I was so deadly afraid of him that I saw my forty-nine fellow-passengers leave me, one after the other, while I still hesitated and eyed him suspiciously. Perhaps I never would have mounted had not Imam, the dragoman, with the frank unceremoniousness of the East, caught me up in his arms and landed me on my donkey before I could protest. And in the face of his childish smile of confidence I could only gasp. We moved off with the majesty of a funeral procession.

“What’s the name of my donkey?” asked my companion.

“Cleveland,” came the answer like a flash.

We were enchanted.

“And what’s the name of mine?” I asked.

“McKinley!”

Then we shouted. You have no idea how funny it sounded to hear those two familiar names in such strange surroundings. We nearly tumbled off in our delight, and so quick are those clever little donkey-boys to watch your face and divine your mood that in a second they gave that Weird, long-drawn donkey call, “Oh-h-ah-h!” and my companion’s donkey swung into a gentle trot, with her donkey-boy running behind, beating him with a stick and pinching him in the legs.

At that McKinley, not to be outdone by any Democratic donkey, pricked up his ears. I heard a terrific commotion behind me. The string of bells around McKinley’s neck deafened me, and I remember then and there losing all confidence in the administration, for McKinley was a Derby winner. He was a circus donkey. He broke into a crazy gallop, then into a mad run. I shrieked but my donkey-boy thought it was a sound of joy, and only prodded him the more. In less than two minutes I had shot past every one of the party; and for the whole day McKinley and I headed the procession. I only saw my companion at a distance through a cloud of dust, and she does not trust me any more. Thus have I to bear the sins of Mohammed Ali, my perfidious donkey-boy, who forced me to lead the van on that dreadful first day at Sakhara.

Everywhere you go you hear the insistent, importunate cry for backsheesh. Old men, women, children, dragomans, guides, merchants, and street-venders–all sorts and conditions of men beg for it. They teach even babies to take hold of your dress and cry for it. And to toss backsheesh over to the crowd on the bank as the steamer moves away is to see every one of them roll over in the dirt and fight and scratch like cats over half a piaster. There is no such thing as self-respect among the natives. They are governed by blows and curses, and even the eyes of sheiks and native police glisten at the word “backsheesh.”

At Assiout one night we heard some one calling from the bank in English: “Lady, lady, give me some English books. I am a Christian. I can read English. Give me a Bible. I go to the American college. I want to be a preacher.” I leaned over the railing and discerned a very black boy, whose name, he said, was Solomon. I was so surprised to hear “Bible” instead of “backsheesh” that I investigated. He said his mother and father were dead; that he had only been to college a year; that he wanted to be a preacher, and that he would pray God for me if I would give him a Bible. I was touched. He spelled America, and I gave him backsheesh. He told me the population of the United States, and I gave him more backsheesh. He sang “Upidee” with an accent which threw me into such ecstasies that it brought the whole boat to hear him, and we all gave him backsheesh. But his piety was what captivated us. I heard afterwards that no fewer than ten of us privately resolved to give him Bibles. He begged us to visit the college; so the next day eight of us gave up the tombs and went to the American college, which was floating the Stars and Stripes because it was Washington’s birthday. We spoke to Dr. Alexander, the president, of our friend Solomon. He told us that he was an absolute fraud, but one of the cleverest boys in the college. He was not an orphan. His father took a new wife every year, and his mother also had an assorted collection of husbands. He had been to school five years instead of one. He had no end of Bibles. People gave them to him and he sold them. He had been in jail for stealing, and on the whole his showing was not such as to encourage us to help him to preach. Such was Solomon, a typical Egyptian, an equally accurate type of the Arab. They are the cleverest and most consummate liars in the world. I wonder that the noble men and women who are giving their lives to teaching in that wonderful mission college have the courage to go on with it, the material is so unpromising. Yet Arabic acuteness makes it interesting, after all. A pretty little water-carrier named Fatima, who wore a blue bead in the hole bored in her nose, and only one other garment besides, ran beside me at Denderah, calling me “beautiful princess,” and kissing my hand until she made my glove sticky. None of us were too old or too hideous in our Nile costumes to be called beautiful and good. My donkey-boy at Karnak assured me that I was his father and his mother. He touched his forehead to my hand, then showed me how his dress was “broken,” and begged his new father-and-mother to give him a new one.

They are creatures of a different race. You treat them as you would treat affectionate dogs. You beat them if they pick your pockets, as they do every chance they get, and then they offer to show you the boy who did it. I never got to the point of personally beating mine, but Imam beat a few of them every day. On one occasion my donkey-boy, Hassan, was angry with me because I would not let him buy feed for the donkey, Ammon Ra, and refused to bring him up when I wanted to mount. I called to the dragoman, and said:

“Imam, Hassan won’t bring up my donkey.”

Imam looked at him a moment in silence, then with a lightning slap on the cheek he laid him flat in the sand. I was horrified. But to my amazement Hassan hopped up and began to kiss my sleeve and to apologize, saying, “Very good lady. Bad donkey-boy. Hassan sorry. Very good lady.”

We have had three Christmases this year. The first was in Berlin, the second in Russia, and the third on the Nile–the day after the fast of Ramazan is ended. Ramazan lasts only thirty days instead of forty, like our Lent. The thirty-first is a holiday. They present each other with gifts, do no work, and picnic in the graveyards.

Between Esneh and Luxor we passed a steamer with some English officers on board, and their steamer was towing two flat-boats containing their regiments, all going to Kitchener in the Soudan. I used the field-glass on-them, while my companion photographed them. We waved to them, and they waved to us and swung their hats and saluted. At Edfou they caught up with us, and passed so close to our boat that the gentlemen talked to them and asked what their regiments were. They said the Twenty-first Lancers and the Seaforth and Cameron Highlanders. Then their boat was gone. How could we know that those gallant officers of the Twenty-first Lancers would so soon lead that daring cavalry charge at Omdurman, and possibly one of those who saluted so gayly was the one killed on the awful day? It touched us very much, however, to think that they might be going to their death, and we were glad they did not belong to us, little dreaming that the blowing-up of the _Maine_, of which we had just heard, would so soon plunge our own dear country into war, and that our own fathers and brothers and friends would be marching and sailing away to defend that same “Old Glory” whose stars and stripes were floating over our heads, and whose gallant colors would succor the oppressed and avenge insult with equal promptness and equal dignity.

The temple of Denderah is not, to my mind, more beautiful than those of Luxor and Karnak; in fact, both of those are more majestic, but the mural decorations of Denderah are in a state of marvellous preservation. I own, after seeing that in some places even the original colors remained, that I quite held my breath as we approached the famous figure of Cleopatra. The sorceress of the Nile! The favorite of the goddess Hathor herself! The siren who could tempt an emperor to forsake his empire or a general to renounce fame and honor more easily than a modern woman could persuade a man to break an engagement to dine with her rival! Queen of the Lotus! Empress of the Pyramids! What grace, what charm I anticipated! I wondered if she would be portrayed floating down to meet Antony, with her purple and perfumed sails, her cloth of gold garments, her peacocks, her ibex, her lotus-blooms, and if all her mysterious fascinations would be spread before the delighted gaze of her humble worshipper.

What I found is shown in the frontispiece to this volume. Beauty unadorned with a vengeance! From this time on I shall question the taste of Antony. I only wish he could have lived to see some American girls I know.

We saw Karnak and Philae by moonlight, and we lunched in the tombs of the kings, with hieroglyphics thousands of years old looking down upon our pickled onions and cold fowl, and we ploughed through the sands at Assouan and saw the naked Nubians, with a silver ear-ring in the top of their left ear, shoot the rapids of the first cataract. We stood, too, in the temple of Luxor, before the altar of Hathor, with the sunset on one side and the moonrise on the other, and heard what her votaries say to the Goddess of Beauty. It was so mystical that we almost joined in the worship of the Egyptian Venus Aphrodite. It was so still, so majestic, so aloof from everything modern and new.

The Nile is essentially a river of silence and mystery. The ibis is always to be seen, standing alone, seemingly absorbed in meditation. The camels turn their beautiful soft eyes upon you as if you were intruding upon their silence and reserve. Never were the eyes in a human head so beautiful as a camel’s. There is a limpid softness, an appealing plaintiveness in their expression which drags at your sympathies like the look in the eyes of a hunchback. It means that, with your opportunities, you might have done more with your life. Your mother looks at you that way sometimes in church, when the sermon touches a particularly raw nerve in your spiritual make-up. I always feel like apologizing when a camel looks at me.

One moonlight night was so bright that our boat started about three o’clock instead of waiting for daylight, and the start swung my state-room door open. It was so warm that I let it remain, and lay there hearing the gentle swish of the water curling against the side of the steamer, and seeing the soft moonlight form a silver pathway from the yellow bank across the river to my cabin door. The machinery made no noise. There was no more vibration than on a sail-boat. And there was the whole panorama of the Nile spread before my eyes, with all its romance and all its mystery bathed in an enchanting radiance. Occasionally a raven croaked. Sometimes a jackal howled. An obelisk made an exclamation-point against the sky, or the ruins of a temple fretted the horizon. It was the land of Ptolemy, of Rameses, of Hathor, of Horus, of Isis and Osiris, of Herodotus and Cleopatra, of Pharaoh’s daughter and Moses. It was the silence of the ages which fell upon me, and then and there, in that hour of absolute stillness and solitude and beauty unspeakable, all my dreams of the Nile came true.

XII

GREECE

After our ship left Smyrna, where the camels are the finest in the world, and where the rugs set you crazy, we came across to the Piraeus, and arrived so late that very few of the passengers dared to land for fear the ship would sail without them. It was blowing a perfect gale, the sea was rough, and the captain too cross to tell us how long we would have on shore. I looked at my companion and she looked at me. In that one glance we decided that we would see the Acropolis or die in the attempt. A Cook’s guide was watching our indecision with hungry eyes. We have since named him Barabbas, for reasons known to every unfortunate who ever fell into his hands. But he was clever. He said that we might cut his head off if he did not get us back to the boat in time. We assured him that we would gladly avail ourselves of his permission if that ship sailed without us. Then we scuttled down the heaving stairway at the ship’s side, and away we went over (or mostly through) the waves to the Piraeus. There we took a carriage, and at the maddest gallop it ever was my lot to travel we raced up that lovely smooth avenue, between rows of wild pepper-trees which met overhead, to Athens; through Athens at a run, and reached the Acropolis, blown almost to pieces ourselves, and with the horses in a white foam.

Up to that time the Acropolis had been but a name to me. I landed because it was a sight to see, and I thought an hour or so would be better than to miss it altogether. But when I climbed that hill and set my foot within that majestic ruin, something awful clutched at my heart. I could not get my breath. The tears came into my eyes, and all at once I was helpless in the grasp of the most powerful emotion which ever has come over me in all Europe. I could not understand it, for I came in an idle mood, no more interested in it than in scores of other wonders I was thirsting to see; Luxor, Karnak, Philae, Denderah–all of those invited me quite as much as the Acropolis, but here I was speechless with surprise at my own emotion, I can imagine that such violence of feeding might turn a child into a woman, a boy into a man. All at once I saw the whole of Greek art in its proper setting. The Venus of Milo was no longer in the Louvre against its red background, where French taste has placed it, the better to set it off. Its cold, proud beauty was here again in Greece; the Hermes at Olympia; the Wingless Victory from the temple of Nike Apteros, made wingless that victory might never depart from Athens; the lovelier Winged Victory from the Louvre, with her electric poise, the most exhilarating, the most inspiring, the most intoxicating Victory the world has ever known, was loosed from her marble prison, and was again breathing the pure air of her native hills. Their white figures came crowding into my mind.

The learning of the philosophers of Greece; the “plain living and high thinking” they taught; the unspeakable purity of her art; the