A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, by Amelia B. Edwards: Chapter XXI


by Amelia Edwards


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WE had so long been the sport of destiny, that we hardly knew what to make of our good fortune when two days of sweet south wind carried us from Edf to Luxor. We came back to find the old mooring-place alive with dahabeeyahs, and gay with English and American colours. These two flags well-nigh divide the river. In every twenty-five boats, one may fairly calculate upon an average of twelve English, nine American, two German, one Belgian, and one French. Of all these, our American cousins, ever helpful, ever cordial, are pleasantest to meet. Their flag stands to me for a host of brave and generous and kindly associations. It brings back memories of many lands and many faces. It calls up echoes of friendly voices, some far distant ; some, alas! silent. Wherefore--be it on the Nile, or the Thames, or the high seas, or among Syrian camping-grounds, or drooping listlessly from the balconies of gloomy diplomatic haunts in continental cities--my heart warms to the stars and stripes whenever I see them.

Our arrival brought all the dealers of Luxor to the surface. They waylaid and followed us wherever we went ; while some of the better sort--grave men in long black robes and ample turbans--installed themselves on our lower deck, and lived there for a fortnight. Go upstairs when one would, whether before breakfast in the morning, or after dinner in the evening, there we always found them, patient, imperturbable, ready to rise up, and salaam, and produce from some hidden pocket a purse full of scarabs or a bundle of funerary statuettes. Some of these gentlemen were Arabs, some Copts--all polite, plausible, and mendacious.